Key Commodity Markets Ho-hum so Far During Trump Term: Of Presidents and Prices

S&P Global Platts
Written By: Joseph Innace
S&P Global Platts
Written By: Joseph Innace

President Donald Trump is quick to take credit for strong growth in the stock market, tweeting on Monday, July 31: “Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C. [Supreme Court]: No WH chaos!”

But another important asset class, hard commodities, has been mostly lackluster since he took office.

The S&P Global Platts commodities price watch during Trump’s term has now had more than a full six months to find its stride. Nonetheless, the price averages since he became president (January 20) through July 31 for oil, jet fuel, natural gas and coal continue to stumble. Iron ore and steel prices have also slipped.

Of the 11 commodities tracked, seven have lost value since he took the oath of office, and four have gained. The laggards are: thermal coal, -12.8%; iron ore, -9.8%; natural gas, -7.1%; fuel oil, -4.4%; Dated Brent, -4.4%; jet fuel, -3.2%; and steel, -0.83%.

Ethanol leads the gainers, up 4.1%, followed by gold, +3.8%; gasoline, +3.7%; and aluminum, +1.1%.

What’s more, 10 of the 11 average commodity prices during Trump’s first half-year remain well below average prices during President Barack Obama’s two terms, with the decline in values ranging from -5% to -39%. Steel is up 4.5% compared with the Obama terms’ average steel price.

This is not to say that the commodity price malaise is Trump’s fault. Hardly. There are many dynamics at play — seasonality, supply and demand, are just some examples.

But by the same token, is it proper for Trump to take credit for stock market growth of +9% (the Dow 30) and +8% (S&P 500) since he took office? Probably not.

But if so, it’s worth noting that during Obama’s two terms, the stock market grew by 176%.