Own ASX mining shares? Experts say an upswing in commodity prices has begun

HSBC economists Paul Bloxham and Jamie Culling explain why global commodity prices are rising.

Three miners looking at a tablet.

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In good news for ASX mining shares, spot commodity prices have risen to a collective five-month high and are likely past their trough, say HSBC global commodities experts Paul Bloxham and Jamie Culling.

Let's review what's been happening.

Rising commodity prices propel ASX mining shares

In a recent research note, Bloxham and Culling said oil prices recently rose to over US$90 a barrel, which was their highest level since October 2023.

Oil prices troughed in early December but have been rising since, taking Ampol Ltd (ASX: ALD) shares 13% higher with them.

Copper prices have been rising since early February.

They rose above US$9,200 per tonne, their highest price in 15 months, and over this period ASX copper mining share Sandfire Resources Ltd (ASX: SFR) gained 29%.

Tin, nickel and zinc prices have also risen by 31%, 18% and 13%, respectively, over the past month, according to Trading Economics data.

ASX nickel mining share Nickel Industries Ltd (ASX: NIC) has ridden the wave, rising 11.4% over the month.

Iron ore prices have bounced around but the 62% ore price moved above the US$100 per tonne threshold earlier this month and is trading at US$108 per tonne today.

Among the three major iron ore mining shares, BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) shares are up 2.85% in April so far. Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) shares have lifted 6.9% and Fortescue Ltd (ASX: FMG) shares have lost 4%.

Gold prices have been rising strongly since February and touched a new record high above US$2,387 per ounce earlier this month.

This has pushed ASX gold mining shares Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) 13% higher and Newmont Corporation CDI (ASX: NEM) 24% higher since 29 February.

What's driving the upswing?

Bloxham and Culling said there were several factors implying that commodity prices are on a sustainable upward trajectory.

On the demand side, the economists noted 'green shoots' in the global industrial cycle, with the global manufacturing PMI improving further in March, and at its fastest pace of growth since July 2022.

On the supply side, Bloxham and Culling describe a 'super-squeeze' with geopolitics, climate change and the energy transition all constraining commodity supply and keeping these markets tight.

The economists said:

The role of geopolitical factors is particularly apparent for oil and gold prices recently. Price increases for these commodities have coincided with developments in the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts, and in the Red Sea.

Although commodity prices have lifted recently, Bloxham and Culling say real prices have already fallen back to their long-run average.

That is, the relative prices of commodities to other goods and services are "now not unusually high".

They added:

So, even if commodity prices rise only in line with other prices from here, they would be past their trough.

The start of a 'weak bull run'

The HSBC data science team has now identified statistical patterns implying that "an upswing in commodity prices is underway".

Bloxham and Culling said:

HSBC's commodity cycle machine-learning model … has now shifted into 'Weak Bull', with high probability.

While the model is mostly to tell us which stage of the commodity cycle we are in right now, it also suggests a high likelihood that the Weak Bull phase will persist, with a typical duration of at least six months.

Motley Fool contributor Bronwyn Allen has positions in BHP Group. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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