What impact will Euro QE have on commodities?

Following (but not exactly hot on the heels) of the US, UK and Japan, the Euro-zone is finally about to pump billions of Euro’s into their economy in the hope of getting it kick started and avoid the threat of deflation. The size of the monthly bond-buying stimulus, expected to be announced on Thursday, could total as much as €1.1 trillion (£840bn), or €50 billion per month according to reports. So what, if any impact will it have on commodity markets? The first thing to note is that markets have already priced in a very high probability of some form of quantitative easing being announced today. Having said that the size of the stimulus now being thought likely is twice what was originally expected.

La2-euro” by This photo (C) Lars Aronsson – Own work. Licensed under CC SA 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

If you look at commodity prices after the introduction of quantitative easing (QE) in the US by the Federal Reserve, they initially jumped as expectations rose that the waving of a magic wand would lead to a return to growth giving a boost to commodity demand. This played out for a while but commodity prices plateaued and then fell as demand growth disappointed.  Indeed a large bout of QE may be seen as a sign of how bad things have got in Europe and do little to revive demand. The key commodity where the impact is likely to be felt is gold. When coupled with the uncertainty over the Greek election this Sunday and other recent events  this could boost demand for gold as a safe haven asset.

The Euro has been under pressure versus the US dollar and is likely to see further weakness if full blown QE is announced. One impact of this will be to increase demand for those commodities that the Euro-zone exports, wheat and barley for example. Commodity buyers in the Euro-zone are also likely to face higher commodity import bills. Despite the recent media attention, in Euro terms commodity prices are actually up by almost 5% over the past year according to The Economist commodity price index.

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