REUTERS - Credit Suisse lowered its 2013 average price forecasts for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil by over 5 percent to $102.75 per barrel from $106.00, while leaving its forecast for Brent crude unchanged at $115.
It cut its forecast for gold, also by over 5 percent to $1,740 per oz from $1,840, and revised its 2013 price outlooks for various base metals. It left forecasts unchanged for other commodities including natural gas, wheat, corn and soybeans.
The bank's forecast for Brent oil futures at $110 per barrel in the first quarter and $115 for the full year "remains more bullish than either consensus or futures markets themselves", Credit Suisse said in a report entitled "Commodity Forecasts: Back to the Future."
"Put differently, we do not expect fundamentals to shift enough to prevent Saudi Arabia from keeping prices in what is clearly for them an acceptable range."
As for U.S. WTI oil, the bank said new infrastructure would make transportation of the marginal barrel less expensive. In its latest research note, Credit Suisse said the inland benchmark WTI should reconnect with global markets via the U.S. Gulf Coast.
"In all, however, we do not think that this reconnect of WTI can reverse the shift in favor toward Brent futures markets. It took a while for WTI to begin to lose its status. It equally, we think, may take a long time to recover some of the ground that it is losing," the bank said.
Credit Suisse lowered its average outlook for this year, describing the metal as "a wounded bull".
"If our central macroeconomic case (the acute phase of the global crisis is probably over; slow improvement in growth through second half of 2013) proves to be correct, then the relative appeal of gold is likely to diminish as fear trades fade."
It also cut its 2013 forecast for silver to $32.20 per oz from $33.10. The bank expects ample supply due to growth in primary producers in Latin America and the United States; as a byproduct of expanding zinc-lead operations in Latin America, Turkey, Russia and China; and potentially from large new gold-silver and copper-gold projects such as Pascua-Lama and Oyu-Tolgoi.
Among base metals, the bank raised outlooks for copper, lead, zinc and tin prices, and lowered them for aluminium and nickel.
"We expect the current (copper) rally to continue in the short run, driven by improving real demand, increased risk appetite from investors and restocking in the U.S. and Europe," the bank said, revising the outlook for 2013 to $8,113 per tonne from $8,000 per tonne.
"However, recent developments on the supply side have reaffirmed our belief that the copper market has already moved into surplus and is likely to remain in such a state in 2013-15," it added.
On nickel, the bank predicted prices would move up in the short term and be range-bound in the medium term, cutting its forecast for the year to $18,050 per tonne from its previous estimate of $18,875.
"We expect the (nickel) market to remain in surplus for the next three years. As a result, we view the risks to our already downgraded price forecasts to the downside, with the notable exception of a potential tightening of Indonesian export policy."
The bank listed historically low bond yields, markets moving into backwardation and "foreseeable but not forecastable" tail risk events on the supply side as factors supporting the commodities' market this year.
(Reporting by Shruti Chaturvedi in Bangalore; editing by Jane Baird)