It’s Like the Old Days in Commodities

For the traders out there, action in commodities has been highly volatile presenting opportunities as if it was the 80’s.  Basic technical analysis has been rather effective, especially within the softs and agriculturals.  Now the precious metals swell appears to be breaking, if only to regroup for the next move

It’s important to remember that large-scale traders and high-frequency traders are the beginning, middle, and end when it comes to trading.  Not only do they control breakouts and breakdowns, but they often make the market, too.  It’s important to exercise patience before positioning into a play.  Before a larger breakout or breakdown is firmly established, there can be see-sawing volatility that can jar traders out of position.  Patience allows you to skip a few waves before finding that swell you decide to ride.

What’s been hotter than the precious metals or related investments in 2016?  Not a whole heckuva lot, and silver has been on mad recent run but price action says it’s time for a pause.  The price of silver has already started turning over the last two weeks.  Because of the intrinsic volatility in the metal, it could be a quick ride down to the breakout point around $17.75.  I think this breakout in the precious metals is the real deal and I suspect we could see a sort of V-bounce right back up to the two-year highs once the breakout point is retested.

Silver Weekly (7-21-2016)

One of the calls I made in my last post was that sugar was looking blow-offy.  I wasn’t precise on the timing but clearly the action is looking corrective.  More importantly, the price action has been controlled to squeeze final long-profits and allow positions to be lightened.

Sugar ETF Weekly (7-21-2015)

I think sugar’s action could go one of two ways.  One, it could be like in the chart above where we see a downmove and then a bounce where final profits are taken and it gets sold off pretty hard down to a natural support point.  Or the market-controlling speculators could just sell the sweet stuff down in a hard, volatile move.  My gut tells me the first option is the probable play.  If you haven’t positioned for a sugar short, there’s still time.

Trading intense moves in an asset class is a lot like trying to catch a metro train.  You may have missed it going away on a long, but you can always catch it when it comes back on a short.

I don’t know nor can I explain why basic resistance/support chart analysis has been working so effectively since late 2015.  Maybe it’s the patience.  Maybe I’ve learned to read the action with HFT-tinted glasses before executing.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I don’t feel like I’m doing a whole lot different from most other years, but 2016 has been one for my own trading record book.  Who knows?  Maybe that whole 10,000 hours thing actually means something.

Let’s take a final look at bonds.  They’ve been driven up right along stocks.  In a bizarro turn, American equities are being viewed with virtually the same risk premium as corporate bonds and even treasuries, primarily because of solid credit ratings coinciding with high relative yields and developed-world central bank backing.

However, the boat is awfully crowded on the one side of interest rate direction.  The world has negative rates everywhere.  The crowd thinks there’s no way rates can move upwards just because the central banks are not in a position to act.  That is fallacious logic.  Observe:

10-Year Yields Weekly (7-21-20156)

Remember, the Fed’s final QE announcement in 2012.  You see that upmove in 10-year rates?  That was a market-driven move, not Fed-driven.  And yet money is allocated today as if there ain’t no way the market can drive rates up again in any sort of treasury selloff.  There is a widely held belief that American debt is one of the only pure safe havens, and it is to an extent.  That doesn’t mean that market controllers won’t inflict maximum pain for bettors letting their guard down.

We’ve already seen a sharp move up in rates recently.  Is there more to come?  I’d bet that the odds favor a continued, but possibly choppy ascent in interest rates.  This provides logical plays shorting TLT.

It’s not just developed sovereign debt that has seen a run.  Corporate debt has been plowed into as well.  Trading the exuberance on US corporate debt is as easy as some puts on LQD.  Have a look at the upward spike since Brexit:

LQD Weekly (7-21-2016)

LQD is already beginning to turn.  It may not fall down to support but hedging within a structured option play is well documented and easy to execute.

For my few followers out there, don’t give up on me.  I’ve been extremely busy with very little personal time.  I hope to post more regularly in H2 of 2016.  Have fun out there with your money.  Just don’t blow it.

Volatility and Price Action

On March 13th, I made a call that I thought it was time for the markets to begin consolidating. Now some may label that call incorrect as the markets have moved a couple of percent higher, even surpassing 2,100 at one point, but I stand by the call. I think late-comers to the rally pushed the S&P 500 that 2% higher.

Specifically, I guessed we’d “see about 7 weeks of sideways consolidation.” Well in order to get a sideways move, the market will need to see a little correction soon. I suspect we’ll get one starting this week. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a move downward of about 5% in the S&P 500 to the 2,000 – 1,975 area over the course of this week and possibly the next. That stem created last week on a weekly chart is the tell.


But here’s the thing. I think market participants will completely overreact to the 5% or any move downward. I think the bears will start beating on their keyboards and cranking out articles and blog posts saying things like, “See! I told you! Here comes the real start of a 50% correction!” Pay these cranks no mind.

Instead, utilize the negative sentiment to leverage a potential move in volatility. I could see the VIX spiking to 20 in an over-reaction by hedgers. Those same late-comers to the rally in February will overdue it with VIX options potentially causing a spike.


So how do you leverage the potential? As usual, if you’re a futures player then just structure your option strategy to take advantage of the fear. For the ETF traders and retail guy trying to swing trade some profits off his work salary, there’s the ProShares Ultra VIX ETF, UVXY. Now this ETF is a trading tool only and it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re going to trade it then you have to be nimble and ready to take profits. The moves are sudden and quick, but profits can be spectacular if you accurately time an upward thrust.


You can see in the last two moves of late summer last year and the start of this year, that perfectly timed trades have huge potential. In a 3 week run last August, UVXY moved up almost 300%. From late December to February, it moved up 150% in just 6 weeks. Again, not for the undisciplined. If this puppy isn’t played right, it’s easy to get shell-shocked and lose any profit potential.

Are these calls bold? Maybe, in that I don’t have any quantitative analysis to back my assessment. It’s just the gut feel I’m getting from price action and general sentiment. It can be dangerous to trust someone else’s instincts, let alone your own. A trade like this requires precision and a hawk-like watch over the action. Trading volatility can very often turn into a sucker’s bet. Let price action as opposed to greed guide your moves.

Two Trades for the Price of None

Okay, so the Toyota trade did not work out. It was a low risk, little scalp for a few easy bucks. If you put the trade on and were stopped out, well then I’m sorry but them’s the breaks. You’ll notice a little lower in that article, however, that the coffee trade was a 100% nailed and there’s still room to run. Might have been luck. Only the trading gods know.

Today though, I’m going to share what are by now two very obvious trades to the world of speculators. One is a short, and it’s move has already begun. The other is a long and the play is still setting up.

First the short, it’s Delta Airlines (DAL) or rather airlines in general. Keep in mind this stock has become a hedge fund hotel along with American Airlines (AAL), which can be either a positive or a negative. On the one hand, the large institutional support can provide a ton of liquidity for any potential pyramiding of the professional positions. Additionally, shorts can be easily squeezed with the amounts of money that could potentially be thrown at the position. However, the short float is exceptionally low at under 2% so nobody seems to be expecting any sort of real selloffs despite the 12% down-move over the last 4 weeks. In other words, there’s not a lot of kindling for a hard short squeeze.

Observe this partial list of the 50 most popular stocks amongst hedge funds as of the end of May 2014, courtesy of the WSJ’s Moneybeat via Goldman:


The airline stocks have enjoyed a tremendous run. From the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2014, Delta was a 4-bagger. American has treated investors well for those that held the equity and the debt too as it worked its way through bankruptcy. The new ticker AAL, post-merger with US Airways, is already up around 100% since the beginning of the year. Allegiant, who I was very wrong about in a friendly argument with a colleague a couple years ago, has been a 3-bagger since the spring of 2012. Mr. S.P. off in Deutschland, you were very right and I was very wrong. I hope you rode the stock for maximum profits.

The airlines have garnered a lot of momentum in what I think will ultimately be temporarily profitable situations. Unions have been re-bargained with. Fuel has been somewhat reasonable. And the fees for this, that, and the other have been a huge boon to the airlines’ income statements. Maybe the industry has entered the new normal along with developed world economies, and the airlines will all be immensely popular investment darlings. We can crown them as the core holdings in a new era Nifty Fifty alongside Tesla (TSLA), King Digital (KING), and Cynk Technology (CYNK), because if there’s one thing airlines are known for it is profitability.

For my money though, I’m betting a little snap-back(or mean reversion as you pros like to call it) may be in the works. Valuations seem a bit stretched. Have a look at this chart from last month of the index of all the US airlines, courtesy of STA Wealth Management:


The blue line is the 36-month moving average. Does the chart say mean reversion or plow in for new highs? With no airline ETFs in existence anymore and the transport ETFs too diversified amongst all industries, you have to take your shot directly with an airline. With Delta forming its own little Eiffel Tower(on a linear scale chart), we have our short play. Observe the chart(logarithmic) below of Delta with Fibonacci retracements:


The 38.2% retracement target is essentially $30, so that makes for a reasonable 1st profit point on a short position. Winners have to be given room to run so you’ll have to consider the action in conjunction with the broader market along with your own stops before considering liquidating part or all of the position. My contention is that “Wood drastically underestimates the impact of…”; sorry about that. Had a Good Will Hunting flashback. No, my contention is that as market darlings the airlines could possibly lead a whole market sell-off, similar to biotech and social media a few months ago. Delta and American are already showing weakness, but especially Delta.

My two proprietary indicators gave a buy signal the week of June 30th. I almost never trade without their confirmation, unless I’m going for a quick scalp off the action of the tape. This is a real money move for me and I have already positioned into the short.

For you option players, be careful about the core strike of your strategy. For instance, $30 strikes for the September Puts and $35 for the Decembers have a ton of open interest. Things can get a little wonky around those areas so intelligently apply your tactics. Review your Greeks and determine the best course of action for this directional play.

The long play is the grains. Specifically, when the time is right I’ll be using JJG as the ETF proxy. JJG is weighted to corn, soybeans, and wheat. If you’re comfortable with futures and want to focus your efforts into a single grain, then knock yourself out. For the purpose of this analysis though, I’ll be referring to the JJG as the grains equivalent. All three components have been beaten down badly the past several months in a very intense selloff. Observe the following chart. In it I have listed the current potential Fibonacci retracements if the sell-off subsides this week. I’ve also displayed the retracements for the selloff of similar magnitude back in 2011:


For the 2011 correction, it’s easy to observe how important the 38.2% area was for approximately 10 months. Will that be the case again? Past is not always prologue to the future, nowhere more so than in the markets. However, there is additional evidence courtesy of SentimenTrader. Jason Goepfert was able to compute a hedgers index for futures of the ETF’s components, which was based on each grains’ weighting within JJG. Here are the results:


Now you can review the CoT’s to assess your prospects for the futures, but for traders of the proxy, this is a handy representation. You can see that when hedgers reach a net long position this tends to be consistent with a bottoming process. As the ETF was only birthed in 2007, the 7 years of data should be statistically insignificant in theory. Relevance is relevance and performance is performance. The reason the net long is important is because some of the biggest traders in these markets are the commercial grains producers themselves. Their product sales inherently have them positioned long, so they constantly hedge their sales with short positions. When we see a net long position set-up like what we currently have, then a rally may not be far off.

There could be further downside action, but sentiment is so stretched that there may not be much selling energy left. The selloff was so extreme over the last couple of months that I think the snapback will occur soon providing a potentially profitable trade with $44 as the first Fibonacci target. I have not entered a position here. I really like the sentiment and the chance for a contrarian play, but my indicators have not confirmed the move. When they do, I’ll post an update stating that the move is on. For now keep your eyes closely on the grains for a chance to garner profits this summer.