It’s commonly believed that copper, oil, and other commodities—and above all, gold—rise or fall because of moves in the dollar. The thinking is that a weak dollar causes investors to seek safety in commodities, while a rising dollar signifies investors are shifting from commodities to financial assets. But it’s not that simple.
We have reviewed quarterly changes in the euro (a dollar substitute), gold, copper, and oil during the past decade. Clearly, the relationships among the four variables aren’t quite what most analysts believe. Analyzing the data, we discovered that of the six ways to pair these commodities (gold/copper; gold/oil; gold/euro; copper/oil; copper/euro; euro/gold), the strongest connection is between copper and oil. They are more likely to move together than either is to move with gold or with the euro/dollar. And that’s not surprising, since both copper and oil are hard commodities that reflect global growth trends.
The next strongest relationship is between gold and the euro, with a rising euro (meaning a falling dollar) matched with higher gold, a falling euro with falling gold. The likeliest explanation is that gold behaves more like a substitute currency than like a hard commodity. This makes sense, because as strong global growth keeps commodity prices up-trended, one repercussion will be pressure on currencies, especially the dollar—which in turn will raise gold’s allure.
For now, then, commodities—oil and copper, but not gold—comprise one group and currencies, including gold, another. However, we suspect that once inflation (propelled by rising commodities) starts to heat up, gold and other hard currencies such as the Australian dollar will begin rising along with copper and oil. This is the likeliest scenario over the next several years or longer.
(The Complete Investor Publication)