Who will benefit from the fall in commodity prices?
Commodities have taken a tumble, with the price of gold crashing and Brent oil down. Some countries in Asia are sure to benefit, an analyst says
Falls in commodity prices have been attributed to worries about the global economy, with the eurozone in recession and below expectations growth in China in the first quarter.
Gold recently crashed by around 15% in a couple of days, prompting some analysts to say the precious metal had capitulated, silver also plunged, Brent crude fell under $100 from February's $118, and prices of some agricultural commodities also went down.
Famous economist Nouriel Roubini said recently that austerity was only making things worse in the eurozone, while IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde stressed that policies should pursue growth, not austerity.
However, some countries in Asia stand to benefit from the current weakness in commodity prices, as inflation "continues to be surprisingly mild" and interest rates might remain low in developed markets for a long time, according to Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC.
"A fading commodity super-cycle may not signal a collapse in demand. It's likely extra supply that's pushing in," Neumann wrote in a market note.
"The commodity super-cycle may be fading. This need not signal a collapse in prices but simply that they are consolidating at a relatively elevated level."
He believes that the fall in raw material prices is "a mild positive" for Asia.
"Lower commodities should help cement the recovery, especially in the region's smaller markets," Neumann added.
|More from Emergingmarkets.org|
|Second quarter outlook for emerging markets stocks|
|Brazil starts 'shortest and smallest' tightening cycle|
|Inflation is 'the dog that didn't bark': IMF|
Lower energy and gold prices are very positive for India because they ease pressure on the balance of payments, providing a boost to national income as less is spent on imports. They also provide breathing room for the central bank (by weakening inflationary pressures) and for the government (because of a lower bill for energy subsidies), he said.
In Indonesia, costly energy subsidies and imports dented investors' confidence, while inflation surprised on the upside in the last four months, while in other ASEAN countries, including Singapore, "lower commodity prices should generally be positive, particularly for consumer spending and profit margins of manufacturers," he added.
For South Korea, lower energy and commodity prices could mean a more dovish policy stance while Japan will benefit too as its weaker yen has pushed up the cost of imports dramatically; lower commodity prices would help offset the cost pressures caused by the falling yen.
"This, of course, would make it harder for the Bank of Japan to hit its 2% inflation target in the short-term. But, then again, this only means it will have to pump even more liquidity into markets. That would be a plus for Asian growth," Neumann said.
- As every year, Emerging Markets will report live from the Asian Development Bank meeting taking place in Delhi at the beginning of May. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at the meeting, download the free app for live updates, check out our website and follow us on twitter @emrgingmarkets