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Commodities “unscathed by Brexit and still look cheap”

In light of dire warnings about the impact of global financial markets and risk appetite stemming from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, commodity markets have performed well over the past week.

According to Kevin Norris, a commodities researcher at Barclays, “commodity market participants can perhaps be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about”.

The initial reaction in oil and across commodities markets in general was muted, with crude oil prices down 6%, copper prices up 7% and gold prices up 6%.

According to Norris, commodity prices in China have been particularly buoyant in the wake of the vote. In a note published today, Norris said that not a single Chinese commodity futures market had seen prices trading lower than they were before the vote.

Some have made significant gains – for instance, active iron ore futures prices on the Dalian exchange were up 13% compared to the day before the vote.

Norris added that commodity equities in western markets were coming back strongly and there was “little indication of concerted weakness in any major commodity currencies”.

One reason posited by Norris as to why commodities haven’t felt the brunt of the Brexit is that the vote has delayed the next Federal Reserve interest rate hike. In recent years this has been seen as a positive signal for risk appetite.

Norris also said that compared to equities and bonds, quantitative easing has little impact on commodity prices, which still look cheap despite the big gains so far this year.

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