Global protein demand has been one of the primary drivers of grain prices as meat consumption over the last 15 years has increased by more than 13% in the same period. Soybean meal is a primary ingredient in protein production, primarily as feed but also as a meat substitute for people. As a result of this demand, soybean meal prices have gotten out of whack compared to its brother, soybean oil. This week will be a chart intensive study on the impact a slowing global economy will have on soybean meal’s multi-year trend. Finally, we’ll address some of the issues associated with trading the soybean crush spread or simply, the bean meal versus bean oil spread.
As most of you know, we focus on swing trading opportunities both for our own accounts as well as the money we manage. We do this for several reasons and we’ll include a short-term setup at the conclusion of this piece. However, today’s main focus will be on using Commitment of Traders analysis within an existing trend to determine an entry point and time in the current soybean meal market. The lesson, however, works across all commodity markets for which Commitment of Traders data is reported.
Historically, September is a bad month for soybeans. This is about the time the harvest numbers begin to crystallize, shortly to be followed by the actual harvest. October, on the other hand, tends to be one of the strongest months of the calendar year for beans as the battle begins between Mother Nature and the farmers in the fields. Given the benign weather patterns we’ve been experiencing and expect to continue into the near future, we believe the September sell off could’ve gotten ahead of itself. Correspondingly, October’s strength may have arrived a week early.
We wrote in detail about the massive amount of commercial trader selling ahead of the August 12th grain reports in, “COT Report Shows Major Selling Ahead of USDA Reports,” published right here at Equities.com. Corn is off by 5%, wheat is off by nearly 7% and soybeans are off nearly 9% since then. For this morning’s commentary, we’ll look at soybean meal which has sold off around 7.5% since the August 12th World Supply and Demand report.
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.
We focused on two main themes this week. First, we looked at selling the Euro currency for TraderPlanet and followed it right up with a look at the Dollar Index on Tuesday for Equities.com. Meanwhile, our main piece focused on the grain markets ahead of Tuesday’s USDA Acreage Report.
The USDA releases its planted acreage estimates on Tuesday, June 30th. This report typically sets the tone for the coming marketing year. David Hightower’s analysis has been posted to our site and we defer to him in terms of the fundamental supply and demand numbers. We’ll pick the individual markets apart through the actions of the commercial traders, the actual producers or end line users of these grain markets. Given the depressed levels many of the grain markets have been experiencing can this report actually do further damage?
The soybean forecasts this year should set another global production record. This comes on the heels of last year’s record harvest which has left many of the domestic bins full. Obviously, supplies have pushed this market justifiably lower since last year’s domestic harvest numbers were confirmed. This leaves soybeans in the same condition as many of physical commodity markets; facing a supply overhang in a world of declining demand. However, those of you looking for a contrarian point of view may want to look at the substantial actions being taken by the commercial traders who are rapidly approaching their record net long position from last fall.
Another week of good calls with two out of three trades well in the money and the third is still hanging on.
We began the week by sending our COTSignals discretionary customers a sell signal in the Australian Dollar on Sunday evening. The market opened Sunday night at $.8026 to the U.S. Dollar and hasn’t looked back. It’s currently pushing $.7800, accumulating more than $2,000 per contract thus far. We detailed this trade for TraderPlanet on Monday in, “Aussie Dollar: A Commercial Trader’s Perspective.”