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Funds News

JPMorgan fund sees winners in minor metals

PARIS (Reuters) - Investors would do well to bet on firms with exposure to minor metals such as chrome and molybdenum as they are relatively cheap and demand is robust, a senior fund manager said on Wednesday.

Ian Henderson, manager of the UK-registered JPMorgan Global Natural Resources Fund, which invests in companies, also singled out ferro manganese as potentially offering value alongside higher profile commodities such as iron ore, coal and uranium.

“For us, small commodities such as chrome, molybdenum and ferro manganese are interesting,” he told a briefing. “Many such commodities have not witnessed such a large run-up in prices.”

There may also be a “pretty strong market” for cobalt, tantalum and vanadium, whose prices were generally being underpinned by the industrialisation of emerging market economies such as China, he said.

While the prices of certain base metals traded on the London Metal Exchange could remain relatively weak next year, commodities in general were likely to benefit from a shift by investors away from property plays.

Against such a backdrop, fuelled in part by uncertainties stemming from the U.S. economy, the price of gold could poke above $1,000 a troy ounce while that of oil potentially breached the $100 mark, he said.

Partly in reaction to global credit fears, the 2.2 billion euro fund had trimmed its exposure to its “base metals and diversified” sector towards 30 percent from 35 percent in recent weeks and raised its cash holdings, he said.

The fund has handed investors 57.1 percent in returns, in euro terms, in the year ending October 31.

One other area which suggested great promise was the agricultural sector and soft commodities.

The fund currently held little over one percent of its portfolio in this sector, mostly parked in palm oil or other plantations related to biofuels, a proportion Henderson would like to increase to three percent.

But he stressed the need to be opportunistic given the difficult nature of identifying investment targets.

“If I could find suitable investments I would. You can’t really find many companies, if any, that are investing in corn or the soft commodities because they are basically owned by farmers,” he said.

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