Interactive Investor

A new commodities supercycle: mining stocks in demand

10th February 2021 15:22

Graeme Evans from interactive investor

As a global economic recovery is priced in, investors are hunting down stocks to benefit.

Copper and platinum prices scaling new heights fuelled talk of a new commodities supercycle today as Glencore (LSE:GLEN) and Anglo American (LSE:AAL) dominated the FTSE 100 index risers board.

Brent crude oil also rose for a ninth day in a row on hopes that a combination of vaccine rollouts and stimulus efforts will spur a recovery for the global economy and trigger the kind of momentum in commodities not seen since the early 2000s.

And as commodities are priced in dollars, the recent weakening in the greenback is making metals cheaper in other currencies.

Six of today's 10 biggest risers in the FTSE 100 index were from the mining sector, with Rio Tinto (LSE:RIO) among those up by 2% or more. BHP Group (LSE:BHP) was 42.5p stronger at 2,124p, having recently overtaken Unilever (LSE:ULVR) to become the most valuable London-listed stock.

BHP and other heavyweight miners have doubled in value since March, with those focused on iron ore seeing a ten-year high in prices as demand from China's steel industry rebounds.

The copper price also set a new eight-year high today as its appeal also reflects the transition towards a low carbon economy through wind power or electric vehicles.

Cobalt, which is a key component of lithium-ion batteries, has also shot up in price by 40% since December amid strong demand from the car industry. Analysts at UBS expect demand growth of about 13% a year up to 2025, which should just about be matched by increases in supply from projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere.

Electric vehicle demand means the risk to the cobalt price looks to be on the upside, according to UBS. That should benefit Glencore, which is the largest cobalt producer with a 22% share.

Glencore is due to give more details on its outlook in annual results next week, although for now analysts at Deutsche Bank have the company as one of its top mining picks with a price target of 320p. Shares are at 274.6p, having surged 4% today and by 75% since the end of October.

Deutsche's other pick is Anglo American, which is among those most exposed to the latest rise in the platinum price to the highest level since 2015 at more than $1,200 an ounce.

Platinum and other platinum group metals enable catalytic converters to strip pollutants from car exhaust gases, with demand from the car industry continuing to grow as emissions regulators become ever more stringent.

Signs of a pick-up in car production in recent weeks have boosted the platinum price, with figures for January yesterday showing BMW (XETRA:BMW) and Daimler (XETRA:DAI) sales up 27% and 11% respectively.

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