The interaction among the 10-Year Treasury Note’s market participants provides a great example of how the commercial traders’ actions, as categorized in the weekly Commitments of Traders report, can be predictive of future market movement. More importantly, this information can provide keen insight ahead of major market news events like the September FOMC meeting.
As many of you know, our our primary focus is the analysis of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) weekly Commitments of Traders (COT) report. More specifically, our analysis lies in finding and quantifying unsustainable position imbalances among the trader groups. In the past, we’ve measured this against both historical levels and recent changes in actions in order to quantify both market sentiment and market capacity among the different trading groups. Today, we’ll provide Equites.com’s readers with a first look into our new method of calculation. Why we changed and what it’s current telling us about the Chicago wheat market.
We wrote here at Equities.com on June 30th that we thought cattle were finding support in, “Cattle Finding a Bottom into Summer.” Over the last six weeks however, commercial traders have come back to the market on the sell side. Based on the commercial traders’ deteriorating evaluation of the fundamental picture along with the clear technical signals, we’re not only exiting our longs; we’re going short October live cattle.
The Euro has been range bound for nearly 18 months; stuck between $1.06 on the low side and roughly $1.17 on the high side. While the Euro remains stuck, now trading a little over $1.10, there has been growing interest by the commercial traders to own the Euro following the Brexit vote.
There are two deeply conflicting sides of the natural gas trade heading into late summer. On one hand, we’re coming off a record setting El Nino that is translating into a La Nina late summer/fall weather pattern. The post El Nino, La Nina weather pattern is already bringing the expected heat that comes with it but speculators want more. They want more heat and they want the hurricane season to be an active one. These are the two bullish components of a fundamentally weak natural gas market. Natural gas producers are selling forward production at their fastest rate since the fall of 2013. The question here becomes a bit more ambiguous as producer selling can have as much to do with selling forward supplies to raise cash as it can the their expectation of current market prices versus forward prices. We’ll look at weather patterns, seasonality and the commercial trader vs speculator balance in the market to determine a proper course of action heading into this market’s critical seasonal period.
A common question here would be, “What do gold and soybeans have to do with each other?” The short answer is that they are both the most speculatively overbought commodities we trade. The deeper answer is that both of these products come from the ground and the producers of these commodities have used this rally to lock in bonus money as there is no way they collectively subscribe to the inflation thesis suggesting structurally higher commodity prices in a near zero percent interest rate environment. Our experience has shown that the huge imbalance in positions between the commercial producers selling forward production and the speculators’ buying of anticipation typically resolves itself in the fundamental direction of the commercial traders’ collective prediction. The gold and soybeans rallies are about to find themselves lout of gas.
Cattle prices have been on a downward trend since the 2014 highs. August feeder cattle, as we’ll discuss specifically, are trading at $143 per hundred weight(cwt), last year they were at $194 and at $182 the year before that. Over the last ten years there have only been two significant periods under our current prices. We’ll examine the placement and marketing numbers as well as the choice vs select spread as it relates to the domestic demand we believe will drive prices seasonally higher through the end of the summer.
The late summer weather is a major variable in the natural gas market as North America heats up and more electricity is generated by natural gas to power the air conditioners. This year seems to be making up for lost time since El Nino played its predicted part in a long cool, spring. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has officially declared this record setting El Nino event, over. This is important as we are currently at the seasonal peak for natural gas and we’ll show that we believe natural gas prices will soften in the near term. However, the transition from El Nino to La Nina will be in full effect this fall and we’ll discuss the trouble that has come with it in the past.
Last week, we noted that the declining volatility of option prices ahead of this Wednesday’s FOMC meeting was curious, to say the least. As we dug in, we noted the broader scope of this trend towards declining option volatility. Today, I’ll show you another way of using the Commitments of Traders report to track investor sentiment and in this case, why the correspondingly bullish put/call ratio via the large speculators is probably bad news for the stock market.