* Concern about global growth, demand in China
* Shun gold as inflation fails to appear
* Upbeat on platinum on supply issues in South Africa
By Eric Onstad
LONDON, Nov 22 Leading fund managers have little
interest in most commodities next year due to worries about
demand in top buyer China and slow global growth, but some are
targeting platinum group metals due to supply concerns.
Participants at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit
were downbeat on gold, expecting prices to extend losses or at
best stagnate since inflation is an issue only for the long
Investment has been flowing out of commodities funds since
the global financial crisis reduced demand, in a reversal of the
previous boom years when funds piled into commodities to capture
sizzling growth in emerging markets, especially China.
"We struggle a bit in the commodities space. It's not
because we think there's significant downside in commodities
prices," said Philip Saunders, head of the global multi-asset
investment business at Investec.
"The trouble is the type of growth we're likely to get is
not really commodity-intensive type growth. So we expect a
weaker Chinese growth picture next year, and we think monetary
conditions there are tightening."
Data on Thursday showed activity in China's vast factory
sector grew at a milder pace in November, bolstering
expectations the economy could lose some of its vigour in the
China accounts for 40 percent of global copper demand, buys
about two-thirds of global sea-borne iron ore cargoes and is the
world's top oil importer.
"Assuming that demand in some emerging areas has seen a loss
of momentum, I don't expect to see commodities on the strong
side in the near future," Pascal Blanque, Amundi's chief
investment officer, said.
Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, which manages nearly
$1.3 trillion worldwide, is "in a standstill mode" on
commodities, Arnaud de Servigny, CIO of wealth management, said.
"For us, there's always been a little bit of competition
between commodities and emerging markets ... (next year) we
would certainly prefer to play emerging market equities."
He expected to keep the allocation to commodities steady at
2 percent, after it had been steadily cut from a peak of 6
percent during the commodities boom.
The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB index,
consisting of 19 commodities, is down nearly 7 percent this
year, the third year of losses.
GOLD SHUNNED, PGMs FAVOURED
All the fund managers were either bearish or neutral on
gold, which has shed 26 percent this year after a 12-year bull
run during which it had become a staple in many portfolios as a
lucrative hedge against inflation and crises.
ING Investment Management, which manages $238 billion, is
neutral on commodities except on gold, on which it is bearish,
CIO Hans Stoter said.
"We are moving into a more risk-friendly environment with
limited risk aversion, so the reason to own gold as a negative
carry asset class doesn't work."
Many investors bought gold on fears that loose monetary
policy would fuel inflation, which has failed to materialise.
"One of the key things that's happened in the last year is
the inflation bears have been vanquished, gold collapsed and we
don't see that changing over the next year," Investec's Saunders
Saunders and several other fund managers, however, are
upbeat about another segment of precious metals - platinum and
palladium - due to worries about supply.
Investors are concerned about output in South Africa, which
accounts for about three quarters of global production of
platinum, after a wave of strike action.
"The unions are very aggressive in South Africa ... and I
can see why they're aggressive," said Michael Hintze, founder
and chief executive of hedge fund CQS, referring to the tough
conditions in deep-level mines.
Platinum is the only commodity Hintze is currently trading,
using a risk-reverse strategy of selling call options and buying
puts, although it is a small part of the portfolio.
Hintze, whose firm manages around $12 billion and who was
one of the world's top-performing hedge fund managers last year,
is also considering targeting copper next year due to China's
continued appetite for the benchmark industrial metal.
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(Additional reporting by Claire Milhench; Editing by Jane