The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has repeatedly stated the growing case for the 2015-2016 El Nino event. While much has been discussed in the headlines, very little of the conversation has focused on the commodity price impact that the most significant El Nino weather pattern since 1997 could have on U.S. crops. This week, we’ll begin our look at how the U.S. grain markets performed during 1997-1998 El Nino and continue this line of thought through the global grain markets next week before finishing this segment with a look at El Nino’s impact on energy prices.
The grain markets finally got moving this year once the crops got in the ground. Since March, the soybean market has seen four moves of more than 7.5%, all of which were completed in three weeks or less. Soybeans have increased their volatility substantially while remaining range bound between $9.20 and $10.60 per bushel. With both the USDA’s Crop Production and the World Agriculture Supply and Demand report coming out Wednesday at noon, we’ll take a look at who is in control of the soybean futures market and how their actions in the market telegraph their expectations of tomorrow’s crucial reports.
This was a quiet week for our trading in spite of the explosive moves created by the Fed. Those brave souls willing to take currency positions ahead of the announcement based on our Discretionary COT Signals were handsomely rewarded as our COT Sell Signal in the U.S. Dollar Index was sent out before 10pm on the 17th.
Our focus took a macro view as we attempt to assimilate contradicting indicators into a general thesis upon which to base our long-term trading. We found, “Hidden Strength in the S&P 500,” in our piece for Equities.com. Once again, ahead of the Fed’s announcement.
The grain markets may finally be perking up in spite of declining energy costs and record harvests. We’ve previously mentioned the oat futures as the first of the grain markets to budge in, “Combining Buy Signals in the Oat Futures.” Today, we’re looking at soybean meal and the set of indicators we use to drown out the voices of hyperbole both in print and on TV. Quantitatively speaking, the soybean meal futures have triggered a COT Buy Signal. More importantly, you can see the consistency and magnitude of these plays on the chart below.
We published, “Picking a Bottom in Natural Gas” on January 15th. The recent decoupling of the declining energy sector from the broader stock market is nurturing the seeds of future growth in the economy as a whole. This is providing early buyers in natural gas futures with some hope that as the energy and stock markets have decoupled so too will natural gas from the broader energy sector.
The Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice (FCOJ) futures have been trading sideways for since last winter’s Polar Vortex spooked the market. What we’ve seen since has simply been a range bound, unexciting market to which, I say, “Thank you!” Trading for a living isn’t about excitement. It’s about making an easy living in the toughest way possible. Therefore, when a trade sets up with our methodology in a low volatility environment, I can be reasonably sure that even if I’m wrong, it will be manageable. Today’s orange juice trade combines our Commitment of Traders (COT) Buy signal along with some late winter seasonal analysis from Moore Research.
There are two issues to look at this week in the soybean futures market. First, I’d like to discuss the seasonal pre-planting characteristics of the soybean market, how they’ve changed over the last ten years and what the current situation looks like. Secondly, I’d like to use this setup to explain the difference between market forecasting and trading program design with a special focus on soybeans and the market’s natural fear based reactions.
This is a critical point in the soybean futures’ seasonality due to the approach of the Brazilian harvest and the spring planting intentions here in the U.S. Brazilian soybean production has been expanding at unprecedented levels, setting new production records in ten out of the last twelve years. A final harvest number near projections would also keep that streak rolling. The Brazilian harvest has just begun but recent rains have already dampened the early harvest projections above 95 million metric tons(mmt) and are currently suggesting a number closer to 91mmt.
Here’s a snapshot of one of the programs we’ve written that’s also been published in Futures Truth. The program is based on following the commercial traders’ actions based on the data collected in the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) weekly Commitment of Traders Report.
We track the net position of the commercial trader category as well as the momentum of the pressure they’re putting on the market and use that as the basis for determining when to be long the Russell 2000 futures.
Here are three more Mechanical Commitment of Traders Programs that you can combine into a single equity curve.
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The lean hog futures’ volatility has provided tremendous opportunities for both the hog farmers and the packers this year. Their assessment of value fuels their collective trading requirements. This leaves the farmers selling production at the top and packers paying for consumption at the bottom. We use both of these groups in our discretionary trading at COTSignals.
You can see the results of the discretionary signals in the chart below.