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CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Monday, 4 January 2016

Commodities dive in December

December dive

Consumers may be enjoying lower oil prices, but they aren't do so much for Australia's Index of Commodity Prices

As the chart below shows Australia's index is weighted heavily towards iron ore (34.7), metallurgical coal (12.1), and thermal coal (8.1), but LNG (8.1) and crude oil (5.3) also account for a significant weighting.

Preliminary estimates for December showed the index getting smashed by 4.9 per cent in SDR terms, following on from a revised 3.1 per cent decline in November. 

The monthly decline was largely due to drops in the price of iron ore and oil. 

Over the past year the commodities index has been smoked by 23.3 per cent, driven by the massive declines in iron ore and coal prices, the bulk commodities. 

The Reserve Bank also now includes an index using spot prices (in addition to the index which uses market information for bulk export prices), and this commodities index is down by some 25.6 per cent over the year. 

In theory movements in the Aussie dollar may help to cushion the shock a little, with the index down by 17.1 per cent in AUD terms over the past year. That said the preliminary estimates show a wicked 6.0 per cent decline in the month of December alone. 

There doesn't appear to be a great deal of hope for coal prices at the moment, but iron ore has seen ~14 per cent bounce from its most recent nadir, while China's stock indices crashing into their circuit breakers today may well lead to a spike in the gold price. 

So the decline back towards long run averages may or may not be temporarily arrested in January. 

As for crude oil, some are predicting a rebound, but who knows really?

In other news, AIG reported that its manufacturing index expanded for a sixth month.