Tough Day For Commodities

So far in 2022, sky-high commodity prices have plagued equity markets. As input prices have surged for corporations, consumers have faced record-high gas prices, and families are forced to spend A LOT more on food. This has led to a compression in discretionary budgets among consumers, record-low consumer confidence readings, and multi-decade lows in investor sentiment. Yesterday, commodity prices fell sharply as speculators feared demand destruction due to rising recessionary risks. Although the reasoning for the selloff is certainly not positive for the broader economy, investors breathed a sigh of relief as one of the major economic/market headwinds eased.  Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.

Yesterday’s move was the third-largest downside move in the Invesco DB Commodity Index ETF (DBC) since its inception in 2006, falling short of just two occurrences in March 2020 and March 2022. Following yesterday’s decline, DBC is now down over 18% from its June 9th high and up ‘just’ 20.2% YTD. Over the last 12 months, though, DBC is still up 73.6%.

Commodities Crash

Commodities Lower

Following the other nine worst days in DBC’s history, the median forward performance has been relatively weak, which by itself, is a positive for corporations and all other commodity consumers. In the next week, DBC has only performed positively one-third of the time, booking a median loss of 2.7 percentage points. Over the following three months, DBC has appreciated 56% of the time and has tended to remain flat on a median basis. In three of the nine prior occurrences, DBC rallied 18% or more over the next three months, while it declined 29% or more twice. Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.


Asset Class Performance During QT

As mentioned in our piece from earlier today, gold did not necessarily deliver superior performance during the last QT cycle. This leaves investors to ponder: which asset classes did deliver substantial returns? Is there anywhere to hide? Although the macroenvironment is vastly different this time around, it is still helpful to look at past occurrences to attempt to put a frame of reference around today’s markets. Major differences include rampant inflation (particularly in commodities), supply chain constraints, lapping stimulus benefits, and weakening economic data. Below, we summarize the performance of the S&P 500, bonds, agricultural commodities, and oil during previous QT cycles.

The S&P 500 outperformed Gold during the last QT cycle, gaining 19.2%, which constitutes an annualized return of 10.1%. The graph below outlines the performance of the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) during different cycles of QE and QT. As you can see, equities were not particularly steady during the last QT cycle, but SPY gained significantly after the Fed announced its intent to slow the balance sheet winddown.

S&P 500 during quantitative tightening cycles

In the last QT cycle, the bond market initially sold off but managed to finish higher for the entire period. The iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) bottomed at a drawdown of 4.7% about a year after the cycle began but proceeded to gain 6.7% through the final 203 trading days of the cycle. When all was said and done, AGG finished the cycle with gains of 1.7%. Similar to what we saw in gold, much of the gains were seen after the Fed announced its plan to slow the wind-down of the balance sheet. This suggests that rates rose at first but then reversed course when the Fed announced the impending end of QT. So far in the current cycle, AGG has already dropped by 2.7%, but bonds sold off hard in anticipation of QT in late 2021 and early 2022. On a YTD basis, the ETF is down a whopping 12.7%.

Bond Market During Quantitative Tightening

Agricultural commodities performed poorly during the last QT cycle, dropping 15.7%. This constitutes an annualized return of -8.9%, but the broader agricultural space was in a downtrend before QT began. Currently, agricultural commodities are in an uptrend, so it will be interesting to watch the price action as QT ramps up. On a YTD basis, the Invesco DB Agriculture Fund (DBA) is up 10.2% and is essentially flat since QT began in early May.

During the last QT cycle, crude oil gained 15.8%, but it would be difficult to attribute these gains to quantitative tightening. Since the Fed began tightening this year, crude oil has jumped 16.0% higher. In the last cycle, oil rallied higher before subsequently crashing, which would certainly be welcomed by many in this cycle. Click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!