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Commodity Prices Fall In February Despite Positive Economic News

The UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity (“CM”) Commodity Total Return Index (ticker: CMCITR), a modern commodity index designed to reduce the potential negative effects of contango, returned -4.02 percent in February, following an increase of 2.62 percent in January, according to data released today by Van Eck Global and Bloomberg. The index has returned -1.51 year-to-date.

Commodity indexes declined in February as several positive news developments failed to boost commodity demand growth. The U.S. economy continued to strengthen as housing starts moved to their highest levels since 2009, while U.S. retail sales increased and better-than-expected U.S. jobless claims data hinted at a sustained recovery in U.S. employment. There were also signs that the Chinese economy is improving, as exports in China continued to rise and imports moved to their highest level since February 2012. However, commodities appeared to face strong headwinds from the pending U.S. government “sequester” and the release of the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting minutes, which indicated a potential end to its quantitative easing program.

While all commodities sectors turned negative in February, energy was the least negative performing sector of the month, as a decline in natural gas inventories offered some relief to a lack of oil demand growth. Agriculture weakened on increased supply, while livestock and industrial metals fell. The precious metals sector was the worst performer for the month, falling to seven-month lows following the release of the aforementioned Fed minutes.

CMCITR roll yield was positive for the period. WTI contango widened as Brent backwardation narrowed. Natural gas contango widened and remained within manageable levels. Wheat contango narrowed and sugar moved back into contango during the month. Copper, gold and silver contango all narrowed in February.

CMCITR outperformed the other main “constant maturity” indexes during the month, including the Continuous Commodity Index (CCITR: -4.31 percent, -2.19 percent YTD) and the Greenhaven Continuous Commodity Index (GCC: -4.38 percent, -2.24 percent YTD).

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