As overall global growth continues to be flat, a variety of market pundits and analysts have begun to revisit their earlier forecasts. For retail investors, these predictions can provide valuable insight to how the macroeconomic picture is evolving and ultimately lead to portfolio gains. Venerable investment bank Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) recently reiterated their broad commodities estimates, highlighting two main opportunities. By focusing on these two main natural resources, portfolios have the chance to profit throughout the rest of the year.
Investopedia Markets: Explore the best one-stop source for financial news, quotes and insights.
Look For Fundamental Drivers
So far this year, the iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust (ARCA:GSG), which tracks a basket of 24 different commodities, has risen around 8.5% year to date. This is the highest the index has been in nearly six months. However, despite the recent gains, Goldman recently lowered its overall commodities return prediction for the next 12 months. Previously, the bank predicted gains in the 15% range, but lowered them to 12% based on deteriorating fundamentals.
Higher crop plantings in the United States will clip much of agriculture's gains throughout the year. Goldman now sees lower prices for both wheat and corn throughout 2012 and only a slight gain in soybeans pricing. In addition, the bank highlighted weakening manufacturing in China as a potential bearish sign for industrial metals. Recently, the Asian Dragon's PMI readings have been drifting lower and hover under the critical 50-point mark, signaling contraction. Both "Chinese construction activity and consumer appliance output remain relatively weak," according to the bank.
Ultimately, Goldman believes much of the "value opportunities" for commodities investors are now gone and portfolios should focus their attention to fundamental drivers. To that end, the investment bank believes both oil and gold will be 2012's superstars, setting price targets of $127.50 a barrel and $1,940 an ounce, respectively. Oil gets the bullish nod, due to the fact that it is vulnerable to supply disruptions. Iran's recent saber rattling is just one example. Also, OPEC's spare capacity is currently "at a trough" point. That will be problematic as the world's economic recovery is slowing gaining momentum. Gold will continue to see gains as many of the developed world's debt problems still have not gone away. Additionally, higher inflationary scenarios will benefit the precious metal.
Playing the Pair
By and large, Goldman still kept their "overweight" call on all commodities. The iPath S&P GSCI Total Return Index ETN (ARCA:GSP) tracks Goldman's proprietary commodity index and includes a hefty weighting towards energy commodity futures. The ETN does have some counterparty risk, as it is technically an unsecured debt obligation of British bank Barclay's (NYSE:BCS), the ETN structure does eliminate many tax headaches for investors. For investors looking for a more traditional futures route, the PowerShares DB Commodity Index (ARCA:DBC) is still the king in terms of assets and trading volume.
With energy getting high marks from Goldman, investors may want to boost allocations to the sector. The E&P firms will be the ones getting the most benefit from higher oil prices. The iShares Dow Jones US Oil Exploration & Production Index (ARCA:IEO) tracks 66 different firms including Apache (NYSE:APA) and Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY). The ETF costs a cheap 0.47% in expenses and could be a great way to overweight the producers. For those who want to directly bet on the rise in Brent crude prices, the United States Brent Oil Fund (ARCA:BNO) can be used to track the global oil benchmark.
Finally, with the investment bank predicting roughly a $200 rise in the price of gold this year, investors still have time to own the metal. The PowerShares DB Gold (ARCA:DGL) is by far the most popular futures method to track gold prices, while the SPDR Gold Shares (ARCA:GLD) remains the physically backed king, with roughly $71 billion in assets. Either fund makes playing gold's ride quite easy.
The Bottom Line
With many of the deep values in natural resources now gone, investment bank Goldman Sachs has dropped its overall forecast for commodity returns. Instead, the asset manager says to focus on fundamentals. That means gold and oil. The previous funds along with the First Trust Energy AlphaDEX ETF (ARCA:FXN) make ideal choices to play Goldman's predictions.
SEE: An Overview Of Commodities Trading.
Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!
At the time of writing, Aaron Levitt did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.