IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Investor demand and spot commodity prices

Listed author(s):
  • Tilton, John E.
  • Humphreys, David
  • Radetzki, Marian

The on-going debate over the influence of investor demand on spot commodity prices largely attempts to assess this influence by measuring the growth in investor demand in recent years. Given the serious data problems that plague such analyses, this article pursues another approach in the hope of providing useful insights into the impact of investor demand on spot commodity prices. It focuses on the mechanisms by which investor demand affects spot prices, and in particular on two questions. First, how does an increase in investor demand on the futures markets affect the spot market and spot price? Second, when investor demand is increasing and pushing a commodity's price up, do physical stocks of the commodity also have to be rising, as economists and others widely assume? On the first question, the article concludes that a surge in investor demand raising prices on the futures markets will have a direct and comparable effect on the spot market prices when these markets are in strong contango. However, when markets are in weak contango or backwardation, price movements in the futures markets have a much looser effect on spot prices. As a result, changes in investor demand on the futures markets may have little or no influence on spot prices in the absence of a strong contango. Instead, changes in fundamentals (that is, producer supply and consumer demand) and possibly changes in investor demand taking place directly on the spot market largely determine the spot price at such times. On the second question, the article shows that investor demand can be pushing up a commodity's price even when investor stocks are falling, despite the widespread presumption to the contrary.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Resources Policy.

Volume (Year): 36 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 187-195

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:3:p:187-195
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:3:p:187-195. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.