Industrial Metals Are Shining Bright

While precious metals like gold have been facing their fair share of selling alongside rates recently, industrial metals have been surging elsewhere in the metals markets. Year-to-date, industrial metals—as proxied by the Bloomberg Industrial Metals total return index—are up 11.43%, while their precious metals counterparts are down by over 4%.

With a fairly flat January, most of those gains have come from this month alone. As shown below, the Bloomberg Industrial Metals index has risen 11.41% so far this month, serving as its strongest performance through the first 14 trading days of a month since September of 2012. Going back to the start of the index in early 1991, the only other months with stronger performance were March of 2008 (11.42) and April of 2006 (14.94).

Again, whereas industrial metals are flying, precious metals have been trending lower since the summer. In the chart below, we show the relative strength of the Bloomberg Industrial Metals index versus the precious metal counterpart index over the past five years. Times where the line is rising indicate the outperformance of industrial metals and vice versa.

Precious metals had been outperforming since mid-2018, but the relative strength line bottomed out back in August of last year. From then through the late fall, industrial metals outperformed, and after some consolidation from November through the end of January, industrials are once again outperforming in a big way.

Delving deeper, tin, copper, and nickel have been leading in those gains. As shown in the charts below, both year-to-date and over the past year, these three metals have risen the most, with tin in the number one spot in both respects.

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