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The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2014-2023)



The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2014-2023)

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2014-2023)

It was a challenging year for commodity returns in 2023.

But there were a few exceptions. Gold was a standout performer, reaching record highs of $2,135 an ounce. As rate cuts began to look more likely in 2024, investors sought out the safe-haven asset and a weaker dollar also boosted demand for gold.

Copper, meanwhile, barely etched its way into the green, as China’s slumping property market weighed on demand.

This graphic, based on U.S. Global Investors interactive research, shows commodity returns over the last decade.

Commodity Returns in 2023

After several years of strong performance, most commodities ended 2023 in negative territory, as the table below shows:

Commodity2023 Return
Crude Oil-10.73%
Natural Gas-43.82%

In a departure from other commodities, gold jumped over 13%, driven by investor demand and central bank purchases.

Over the first three quarters of 2023, global central banks bought roughly 800 tonnes of gold, with China, Poland, and Singapore being the top buyers.

Crude oil sank nearly 11%. In 2023, the U.S. produced a record 13.3 million barrels per day in mid-December, supported by growing operational efficiencies. The number of active U.S. oil rigs stands at 501—a 69% decline from a decade ago.

Also putting pressure on oil prices was slower global demand as interest rates notched higher.

Like crude oil, the supply of lithium and nickel were robust last year, causing prices to fall sharply. In fact, some major producers reined in production amid collapsing prices last year. The surplus in lithium supply is projected to reach 30,000 metric tons globally in 2024, outpacing demand.

Outlook for 2024

While slower global growth could dampen commodities demand in 2024, the easing of interest rates by the Federal Reserve could be beneficial.

ING projects that gold will hit new highs in 2024, with potential rate cuts supporting prices.

From a geopolitical standpoint, escalating tensions in the Middle East could lead to stricter U.S. sanctions of oil in Iran and tighter supplies. OPEC+ policy, which has pushed for supply cuts, could also influence oil prices.

Commodities used in the green energy transition—such as nickel, copper, lithium, and zinc—have mostly bearish outlooks. A significant supply glut in nickel could depress prices, with a forecasted 239,000 metric ton surplus in 2024.

Copper, lithium, and zinc are also forecast to have surpluses next year.

However, taking a longer-term view, the IEA projects that copper production from existing mines and those in construction will meet 80% of climate goal requirements by 2030. For lithium, it will meet just half of these requirements in the green energy transition.

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Visualized: The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Visual Capitalist partnered with EnergyX to analyze five major clean energy stocks and explore the factors driving this growth.



The teaser image shows the growth of clean energy stocks and hints at their cumulative five-year returns.



The following content is sponsored by EnergyX

The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Over the last few years, energy investment trends have shifted from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Long-term energy investors now see significant returns from clean energy stocks, especially compared to those invested in fossil fuels alone.

For this graphic, Visual Capitalist has collaborated with EnergyX to examine the rise of clean energy stocks and gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving this growth.

Sustainable Energy Stock Performance

In 2023, the IEA reported that 62% of all energy investment went toward sustainable sources. As the world embraces sustainable energy and technologies like EVs, it’s no surprise that clean energy companies provide solid returns for their investors over long periods. 

Taking the top-five clean energy stocks by market cap (as of April 2024) and charting their five-year cumulative returns, it is clear that investments in clean energy are growing:

CompanyPrice: 01/04/2019Price: 12/29/20245-Year-Return %
First Solar, Inc.$46.32$172.28272%
Enphase Energy, Inc.$5.08$132.142,501%
Consolidated Edison, Inc.$76.55$90.9719%
NextEra Energy, Inc.$43.13$60.7441%
Brookfield Renewable Partners$14.78$26.2878%
promotional graphic with a button and wheel that promotes the EnergyX investment site

But how does this compare to the performance of fossil fuel stocks? 

When comparing the performance of the S&P Global Oil Index and the S&P Clean Energy Index between 2019 and 2023, we see that the former returned 15%, whereas the latter returned an impressive 41%. This trend demonstrates the potential for clean energy stocks to yield significant returns on an industry level, sparking optimism and excitement for potential investors. 

A Shift In Returns

With global investment trends moving away from traditional, non-sustainable sources, the companies that could shape the energy transition provide investors with alternative opportunities and avenues for growth. 

One such company is EnergyX. The lithium technology company has patented a groundbreaking technology that can improve lithium extraction rates by an incredible 300%, and its stock price has grown tenfold since its first offering in 2021.

promotional graphic that promotes the EnergyX investment site

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