Most analysts like base metals the most, with better-than-expected iron ore prices in 2017 also leading to some price revisions.
ANZ Research said it remained broadly positive on commodities overall for 2018, and believes the recent pick-up is sustainable.
“Risks cannot be ignored, least of all the further slowing in growth in China as it enters the year of the dog,” it said.
“Changing consumption patterns will also mean not everyone is a winner. Overall, the gains will also be limited.”
ANZ is leaning towards base metals.
“Demand growth should be strong as China moves toward more value-added products,” it said.
“Persistently low prices over the past couple of years have also dragged down investment in capacity to cyclical lows.”
NAB also prefers base metals, with zinc its top pick, with the price tipped to remain above US$3200 for the duration of the year.
“Forecasting nickel price movements will continue to be difficult given the hype around car battery demand and policy uncertainty in key supplying countries,” it said, while predicting an average price of $11,310/t this year.
UBS likes nickel for its link to electric vehicles, copper due to potential deficits, and expects momentum in mineral sands pricing to continue.
Its least preferred commodities for 2018 are alumina, manganese and metallurgical coal.
S&P Global Ratings recently raised 2018 price forecasts for aluminium (to $2100/t), copper (to $6170/t) and zinc (to $2800/t), largely reflecting a supportive supply-demand balance in those metals.
RBC Capital Markets favours zinc, copper, coking coal and iron ore as its preferred commodities for the year, with above consensus forecasts for all four.
There is also love elsewhere for iron ore with Bell Potter seeing upside and Martin Place Securities forecasting a rise back to $100/t this year (after it correctly tipped the jump to $95/t last year).
Westpac lifted its iron ore forecast to $70/t but expects a correction to $58/t by June.
“A lot will depend how the demand for higher grade ores map out through 2018,” Westpac said.
UBS and RBC each see iron ore averaging around $65/t this year.
ANZ sees little upside, as it expects Chinese growth to slow in the second half.