As Global Economy Hums, Davos Turns Bullish on Commodities – by Javier Blas (Bloomberg News – January 26, 2018)

The last two editions of the World Economic Forum were somber affairs for oil industry chieftains and commodities tycoons. The consensus in Davos was that oil was going to stay low, OPEC would fail to lift prices, and the mining industry faced a difficult time.

Roll forward to 2018 and there’s been a near-universal shift in sentiment as strong and synchronized global economic growth drives demand for raw materials. “We have not seen this kind of growth since before the global financial crisis,” OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said in an interview.

In panel discussions, interviews, and conversations on the evening cocktail circuit at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvedere, it was hard to find a bearish voice. The Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index, a gauge that tracks raw materials from oil to wheat, has risen 41 percent over the last two years to trade at highs last seen in November 2014.

Daniel Yergin, the oil historian and consultant at IHS Markit Inc., summarized what many said in private: “The combination of strong economic growth and cheap money is lifting commodities.”

The falling value of the U.S. dollar — often a trend that drives commodities higher — is also helping, particularly after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested in Davos the administration favored a weaker currency.

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