Morgan Stanley said it prefers exposure to gold, silver and livestock in the coming year, as such commodities perform well in a global economic slowdown.
The bank's economists expect global GDP to grow by a mere 3.5 percent in 2012, down from its prior forecast of 3.8 percent, with the first half of the year seen as particularly weak.
Given the low growth environment, we do not feel it is prudent to be long on the commodity complex indiscriminately, analysts Hussein Allidina and Peter Richardson said in a research note dated Tuesday, November 29.
Gold, silver and livestock are the most preferred commodities while base metals and crude oil are the least, the bank noted.
The defensive nature of gold, and silver to a lesser degree, will create significant investment demand as investors look for safe havens in a period of risk aversion.
Livestock has also been resilient in previous recessions, the investment bank said, adding that grains also tend to outperform more economically sensitive commodities as baseload feed demand is generally less sensitive to changes in GDP.
Base metals and soft commodities are highly cyclical and tend to sell off sharply during global slowdowns. Energy tends to be at the greatest risk going into a recession, as its demand is highly dependent on GDP growth.
The bank expects Brent crude prices to fall in the first half of 2012 to as low as $85-$90 per barrel, as it sees the current tight fundamentals diminishing as 2012 starts given recovering supply and slowing demand.
Brent crude slipped 32 cents to $110.50 by 0323 GMT on Wednesday.