October lean hog futures’ attempt to rally over the last couple of weeks has run out of gas. Their turning point coincided nicely with technical, seasonal and fundamental resistance. Lets take a look at the combination of factors that could continue to drive this market lower through early September.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission(CFTC) publishes a weekly report entitled, “Commitments of Traders.” This report classifies the markets’ largest positions by trading groups – speculators, managed money, index traders and commercial traders. Our research focuses on the commercial trader group. We’ve been able to quantify correlated movement between the commercial traders’ net position and commercial trader momentum with the underlying market movement accurately enough to use this as the first screen in our trade selection process. We hypothesize that their accuracy is due to the laser focus necessary when one’s livelihood is derived solely from the movement of an individual market.
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.
The equity markets have been THE place to be for capital appreciation over the last few years. Last year saw the Dow Jones under perform with a 9.6% return compared to the S&P 500 at 13% and the Nasdaq 100 at a whopping 19%. In spite of the impressive returns provided by the stock index futures last year, there were still periods of flatness and even outright declines. In fact, the Nasdaq had a decline of more than 10% from peak to trough at one point last year, in spite of its 19% return for the calendar year. This week, we’ll discuss a method of applying the commercial traders data from the weekly CFTC Commitment of Traders reports to the equity markets in an attempt to preserve profits gained on the long side of the markets as well as profiting from forecasted declines.
This has been a tremendously active week with big volatility and important market turns. We have to begin with last week’s gold platinum spread. We outlined the case in our Gold, Silver, Platinum and Copper Outlook. This week, April platinum traded down to nearly a $50 per ounce discount to April gold. Currently, this spread has rebounded to approximately a $5 discount. That’s as much as $4,500 profit depending on the entry point.
The Canadian Dollar was trading above $.94 as recently as June. This has provided a clear picture of what can happen to an unevenly balanced economy whose currency value has become pegged to any individual sector. The global economy slow down and the associated decline in oil has absolutely pounded the Canadian Dollar to the tune of a 15% haircut in six months. That’s a very large move in a first world currency. Fortunately, we can use the commercial traders’ forecasts derived from the CFTC’s weekly Commitment of Traders report to keep us on the look out for the big moves and out of harm’s way.
The first point to make is that we only take trades in the established direction of the commercial traders’ momentum. Therefore, we spent the first half of the year looking for selling opportunities as the commercial traders sold more than 100,000 contracts through June of 2014 between $.89 and $.93 cents to the U.S. Dollar.
You can see on the chart below that commercial traders were quick to cover a little more than half of their short position through fall’s decline between $.87 and $.91 cents to the Dollar. This left them comfortably short for most of the decline and leads us to our current situation.
Commercial traders now appear to be once again interested in the long side of the Canadian Dollar trade. Their recent purchases of approximately 15,000 contracts has been strong enough to turn momentum’s tide and put us on the lookout for buy signals like the one generated last night. We’re not sure how all of the global banking variables are going to sort themselves out over the coming year but, we do see this as a supported trading opportunity on the long side of an oversold first world currency.
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.
The live cattle market was up 28% in 2014 and the Feeder cattle market was up 32% for the year. The cattle markets made all-time highs in 2014 as the U.S. had its smallest slaughter in 20 years. This came as no surprise as we’ve discussed the declining trend in the domestic herd several times. Based on the cheap feed prices, cheap fuel costs and a strong Dollar, this should be another year of declining supply as the U.S. begins to grow its herd to meet the growing foreign demand.
This morning we look at a classic example of the commercial trader category putting their knowledge to work. In a classic case of, “chicken vs. the egg,” do the commercial traders drive the seasonal tendencies or, do the seasonal tendencies drive the commercial traders?
The March oat futures contract is typically, the first of the bullish U.S. grain markets as you can see in the seasonal analysis provided by Moore Research.