Analysts at Barclays have warned of a “rush for the exits” as investors back away from commodities, resulting in price levels for oil and copper dropping as much as 25pc.
A note issued by the bank said that although investors have beenattracted to commodities as one of the best performing assets so far in 2016, returns are unlikely to be sustained in the second quarter of the year.
“This could make commodities vulnerable to a wave of investor liquidation that we estimate could, in a worst case scenario, knock as much as 20-25% from current price levels,” the note said.
This would take the price of oil back to the low $30s and copper to the low $4,000s, the analysts said.
The bank said that the recent price appreciation does not seem to be well founded in improving fundamentals, and that key markets such as oil and copper already face overhangs of excess production capacity and inventories.
Net flows of investment into commodities totalled more than $20bn in January and February, the strongest start to a year since 2011.
But futures positioning in copper and oil markets has switched from bearish to bullish extremes in a matter of weeks, and there is also evidence of a surge in investment flows into Chinese commodity markets.
Barclays said a short-term turning point for investors slow might be close, which could result in investors liquidating assets quickly, and at the same time, hitting prices.
“We very much doubt that recent large inflows to commodity investments are the start of new wave of enthusiasm for long-term, broad-based exposure. Given the weakness of underlying fundamentals, we suspect that the latest move into commodities by investors may be closer to its end than its beginning,” it said.