commodity trading newsletter

Carley Garner, an experienced commodity broker and futures market strategist at DeCarley Trading, writes two commodity trading newsletters for DeCarley brokerage customers; The DeCarley Perspective and the Financial Futures Report.  

The DeCarley Perspective is a commodity trading newsletter offering readers insight into the fundamental and technical analysis of the futures markets, as well as price predictions.  The futures trading newsletter also offers specific trading recommendations which include option selling strategies, commodity option spread trading, and outright futures positions. 

The Financial Futures Report is a daily publication with a focus on stock index futures (primarily the e-mini S&P 500 futures), and Treasury futures (T-Bond and T-note).  

  • the financial futures report

    Where did the ES futures volume go?

    At the time this newsletter was being written, volume in the December e-mini S&P was creeping up on the one million mark in contracts traded. This is dramatically lower than the 1.5 to 2.0 million we were starting to get used over the last three or four weeks of trading.

    Our theory is that many of the highly leveraged market participants have moved to the sidelines after a rough period of trading. Don't forget, bear markets lure traders to the futures markets like flies on "fertilizer". This is because most speculators believe there is quicker, and bigger, profits to be made during sell-offs than can be made during a bull market phase. Their assumption is true, but it also comes with elevated risks.

    The big sell-offs in August and September brought traders to the markets, but the October rally has likely chased them back into hiding (particularly the massive short squeeze seen on Thursday and Friday of last week).

    What does this mean going forward? Two things stick out in our minds; first, the e-mini S&P 500 bears will think twice about selling into a market that has burned them (twice). Second, if these traders stay sidelined and volume remains light, the path of least resistance will continue to be higher in the stock market (light volume tends to see melt-up type of trade).

  • the financial futures report

    Holiday futures markets are around the corner

    Perhaps the most valuable lesson I've learned in my decade (plus) time as a commodity broker is that holiday markets are not to be reckoned with. Volume is light and trading desks are filled with the second, and third, string staff. As a result, the markets can make dramatic and uncharacteristic moves. An example of this that still stings, is last year's Thanksgiving day crude oil futures collapse. The market was technically closed for the holiday, but the CME decided to let futures trade for an abbreviated session on the morning of Thanksgiving day. As a result of the light volume, and an ill-timed OPEC meeting, crude oil fell roughly $7.00 in single clip. In a nutshell, this is the time of year to keep trading light.

    In regards to the S&P and Treasuries, the holidays have an interesting influence on trade. Nearly every year (I'm not exaggerating), we see an end of the year melt-up. It is often a very slow moving grind, but it eventually adds up to a significant move.

    More pertinent to the current market; the week of Thanksgiving is statistically highly bullish. In fact, the Stock Trader's Almanac suggests that it might be a good idea to look for weakness prior to Thanksgiving to enter bullish trades, and strength after the holiday to exit. In fact, in the Dow, netting the day before and after Thanksgiving day has combined for only 13 losses in 62 years.

  • The Fed is as hawkish as they've been in years...

    A hotter than expected inflation reading and more confirmation from the Fed that they will be seeking at least three rate hikes this year set a negative tone for Treasuries. However, the same news was seen by stock trader as a sign of economic growth and prosperity. Accordingly, the seemingly never-ending stock market rally logged another session of buying. What can we say? This is a bull market...and nothing can derail it. In recent weeks we've seen chaos in Washington, riots in the streets of our cities, a North Korean missile headed for our shores, but we've yet to see investors interested in taking profits in the equity markets.

    If you ask me, the bulls are starting to get greedy (that said, we've obviously been wrong about the strength of this rally). According to our friends at Consensus, their bullish sentiment index has reached 76%. Generally speaking, this signifies an extreme that often results in a reversal. Likewise, The AAII Index suggests only 25% of those polled were bearish the market. The bus could be getting full...and we all know that that means.

     

  • Stock Index Futures Trading Newsletter

    The futures markets have voted: Did Donald Trump awaken the bull market in stocks?

    It is no surprise the markets are fickle. Wall Street appeared to favor the stability of a Clinton regime but in the end they voted for growth policy following a Donald Trump victory. Whether or not the stock market's optimism will be mimicked in the economy is yet to be known, but for now we believe the euphoria could take us into year's end.

    Stocks often find a significant low in October, this year it seems that low might have been a few weeks late. Nevertheless, seasonal strength and one of the most convincing key reversals we've ever seen has us looking higher. That said, volatile markets can change quickly. The bulls will need to break above 2165, until this occurs the bears are still alive.

    Now that the election is over, the market "should" start focusing on the Fed.

     

  • the financial futures report

    After today, the payroll report seems like child's play

    The thing about tables is, they ALWAYS turn; the same can be said of market trends.

    Just as I was preparing to type the sentence, "In my decade+ experience as a commodity broker, I've never seen anything like what we saw in the euro today", a correspondent on CNBC pointed out the March 2009 euro rally. On March 18th of 2009, the Fed announced a round of Quantitative Easing that sent the dollar reeling and the euro soaring. On that particular day, the euro was up about 3.5%. At the peak of trade today, I believe the euro was up about 3.3%. (I'd to the math, but it won't change anything and I've had a long day).

    Ironically, we had been looking for the seasonal euro rally for several weeks with a short put strategy, but couldn't justify holding on to the trade into the ECB meeting. Instead, we decided to buy back our puts and sell strangles; a decision that, and the time, was sound in nature; but in hindsight was horrible. We were bullish, why get into a neutral strategy?

    Nevertheless, after a lot of intraday shucking and jiving, we appear to have survived. Unfortunately, I'm not sure many traders survived the day. The way the Euro was running high in clips of 10 to 20 pips at a time, is a clear indication of margin call buying and risk manager liquidation of futures accounts. We suspect the margin calls will continue into the night session and tomorrow (and this includes the ES). So look for another round of selling in the ES, and buying in the euro. We've heard rumours of some big hedge fund blow ups, and I can assure you there are enough retail trader casualties to fill a large graveyard.

  • the financial futures report

    This week's news docket is skimpy but be cautious of the Fed's Beige Book on Wednesday afternoon.

    I'm sure there will be plenty of headlines coming out of DC, as usual, but scheduled economic news is thin. This should leave traders focused on earnings, which are projected to be relatively positive. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, when earnings season arrives during a market dip it tends to be supportive. We suspect this time will conform to the norm, leading the S&P 500 futures higher for the next couple of weeks.

    With that said, don't underestimate the potential market reaction to Wednesday's Fed Beige Book. With the Fed's interest rate hike campaign in full force, the markets will be interested in knowing their thoughts on the domestic economy.

    Also, the early April stock market dip could have been tax related selling (investors liquefying to pay tax bills). However, post-tax deadline we could see funds flow back into the market equity.

  • Generally speaking, the stock index futures markets stumble into October

    The last week (or so) of September is notoriously weak for equities, and strong for Treasuries. We don't see any reason to buck the seasonal trend. After all, Friday's bloodbath on Wall Street is a sure fire sign that investors have not gotten over the mid-August stock market "crash".

    Although the Fed meeting is behind us, we still have to worry about the details of Janet Yellen's speech on Thursday at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Oddly enough, the financial markets sometimes react to non-FOMC speeches than they do the official Fed meetings. Be prepared for volatility.

  • the financial futures report

    Crude and the Yen reverse yesterday's moves, so does the ES

    Obviously, the market panicked a bit when in regard to the implication of a Yen rally. Although this is the highest we've seen the Yen in years, it is still historically cheap. Further, today's reversal suggests the unwinding of the carry trade isn't quite upon us. Accordingly, this should be somewhat supportive of the equity markets.

    On another note, the greenback is still trading sluggishly, but it has yet to break support. In theory, weakness in the dollar should help push commodity prices higher, and eventually the stock market as well. As a result, we'll need to keep an eye on the DX support near 93.00.

  • the financial futures report by futures broker carley garner

    The First 1% down day in the S&P 500 since October 11th.

    Finally, we are seeing the equity market correct. Traders have been waiting months for this, but I doubt it was everything they had hoped for. Although it is a relatively decent one-day sell-off, today's action was meaningless in comparison to the post-election night rally. Further, selling was orderly and without panic. The good news is, the market is looking healthier. Corrective trade is "normal" and should be expected. As crazy as it sounds, the market needs to be bearish before traders can get comfortably bullish and buying picks up.

    Today's shake-up is being blamed on yesterday's Congressional hearings and today's uncertainty regarding Thursday's health care vote in the House. The Republicans claim they have the 216 votes necessary to pass the bill, but some last minute amendments are raising concerns.

    As we've been stating in this newsletter, the markets had priced in political perfection but governments are designed for flawed operations (checks and balances). The financial markets could get rocky as the new administration attempts to administer change.

  • the financial futures report

    Trade tariff talk is just that, we've yet to get anything concrete. Yet, the market is emotional.

    This is nothing new, if there is anything we've learned from the first year (+) of the Trump presidency it is the conversation always starts with drama, but then settles down to something more reasonable. Unfortunately, the markets haven't quite figured that out yet. Those that believe markets are efficient, will have a hard time explaining what we've seen in the previous three or four trading sessions.

    Tariff discussions, without any concrete decisions, can't explain such big swings in asset prices. The only rational explanation for this type of volatility is (ironically) irrationality. Markets are emotional, and we are being reminded of that. The low volatility slumber of 2016 and 2017 were anomalies and are probably behind us.

    The "buy and holders" might not be happy with the market environment before us, but the reality is the expanded volatility will eventually provide opportunities for traders (particularly option sellers). Further, it might not feel like it but this is a healthier market than what we saw in late 2017 and January 2018.

  • the financial futures report

    The ES bears have a slight edge, but they need to move fast.

    The S&P has gone into correction mode but the selling has been tepid. The complacent bulls haven't been given a reason to second-guess their bets; if the bears want to make progress they will want to see something happen sooner rather than later. The longer prices hover in this area the more likely the edge will shift back to the bulls.

    The meaningful economic reports and the bulk of corporate earnings are behind us. From here, the market will have to find a way to stand on its own two feet. In our opinion, the legs of the bull are a little shakey. Assuming we don't receive any surprise tweets or trade tariff resolutions, the ES should creep into the 2780ish area and Treasuries should begin to make their way higher.

  • the financial futures report

    In today's DeCarley Perspective (see here:https://madmimi.com/s/f78468) we noted the fact that the VIX is trading at historically depressed levels. Specifically, VIX futures near 15.00 and the cash market VIX near 11.00 is a relatively rare event. Even more interesting, is the fact that the VIX rarely stays at such depressed levels for long. This is because at such levels the market is discounting nearly all event risk. Traders are simply complacent, or as a former colleague might have said, "they are fat, dumb, and happy."

    On the flip side, if we are right about the VIX being near a low, the ES should be near a high.

  • the financial futures report

    Implied volatility in the S&P 500 is in the tank, is this a sign of things to come?

    Traders have been asking themselves all summer how low volatility can go. Thus far, the question hasn't been answered. Although it is true that we never expected volatility, and specifically the VIX, to reach the depths we've seen in recent weeks, we also know this is not a permanent market state. In the moment, complacency can feel like it lasts forever, but in reality it never does.

    The chart above depicts the implied volatility of S&P options on futures according to MRCI (implied volatility is simply the expectations of future volatility built into option pricing). It is apparent that as we approach 8% in implied volatility, the odds are swiftly in favor of a change in sentiment (higher volatility and likely lower stock prices). According to this study, the implied volatility has never dipped below 8%, and has bottomed near 8% on two other occasions since 2002.

    Now is (roughly)the cheapest time in well over a decade to by S&P put options. It might be worth having a few lottery ticket flyers out there. For instance, the December 1850 puts can be bought for about $425 and give you 100 days in the market with risk under $500.

     

  • The Fed and triple witching Friday are generally bullish events for the stock market

    Although the CME has mitigated some of the impact of the triple witch with their addition of weekly expiring options, the event still influences the quarterly expirations (March, June, September, and December). The most common course of action is a short squeeze going into expiration. In this particular instance, we are referring to Friday, June 17th. The squeeze higher often extends itself into the time the June contract goes off the board, which will be at 8:30 am Friday morning. Accordingly, those wishing to get bearish this market should look for opportunities late next week.

    Similarly, Fed meetings have generally enticed S&P buyers in the days before the FOMC's interest rate policy announcement. The two-day meeting begins on Tuesday, so we could see some buying early in the week.

  • the financial futures report

    The data is suggesting inflation remains an non-issue

    Yesterday's PPI was reported to be even softener than analysts expectations. The headline figure suggests that prices at the producer level have decreased by .5%, but even the core reading was -.3%, Today's CPI painted a similar picture; the headline was -.2% and the core was .2%. In a nutshell, these reports are telling the markets the Fed isn't forced to take action. They can continue to take their time with the timing of the first rate hike in over 9 years.

    A few months ago we had predicted that the Fed would probably wait until the December meeting to begin raising rates because at that time most people will be enjoying the holidays, rather than drooling over everything the Fed does. We still think that this is a rather high probability. However, the Fed Funds futures market has dwindled the odds of a December rate hike to about 25% (in other words, the market disagrees with us).

    The "market' doesn't value the odds of a hike above 50% until we get into the spring of 2016. This is a dramatic change in stance of that seen a few months ago in which the Fed Funds futures market was suggesting a 50% chance of a rate hike in the October or December meeting.

  • the financial futures report

    The market is pricing in a good payroll number as it reverses pessimism over North Korea

    Late Monday afternoon I was watching a business news station. The panel was discussing the implications of a North Korea missile being fired (they were still trying to confirm the rumor that it had occurred). There was talk of a limit down opening to the E-mini S&P (the news broke during the daily afternoon pause of trading). They were right about sharp selling on the open but the bearish tone was quickly forgotten by tax reform talk. Even a 500-year flood couldn't deter the fiscal policy bulls. By Thursday's close all of this week's bearish headlines had been forgotten.

  • the financial futures report

    Crude oil futures are driving the bus

    Unfortunately for anyone holding stocks in their retirement portfolio, or anybody playing the long side of the e-mini S&P in the future market, stocks aren't trading on their own fundamentals. The broad market is simply following crude oil lower, and occasionally temporarily higher.

    It is important to remember the last time crude oil traded near $30, the S&P 500 was near 1,100, and the world was concerned we would no longer have a functioning banking system. This time around, we are in a much different situation. Unless I'm missing something, it is far less dire (unless you are long commodities). Nevertheless, something has to come back into line. Either oil, and the other beaten down commodities need to make a move higher, or stocks need to move lower.

    In recent days we've been "blessed" with some rather bold analyst calls in the commodity space. Some large and relatively well respected banks and analysts are calling for oil to fall to 20s per barrel, and in one instance expectations are for $10 crude oil!!! Perhaps these prediction will be accurate, but we have serious doubts. It smells a little like the widespread analyst expectations for $200 crude oil in 2008 when $150 crude oil was considered "cheap".

  •  Financial Futures Trading Newsletter by Carley Garner

    Energy stocks have likely been holding the market up.


    Crude oil, and now natural gas, have made impressive moves higher. As a result, energy companies making up a significant amount of market capitalization and playing a big role in the US economy has been positive.  Nevertheless, if crude oil prices come back to reality ($50s?), that will work against stocks. 


    In our view, the oil market is an accident waiting to happen.  A few weeks ago we wrote a piece suggesting the intermediate-term top in oil would likely be somewhere in the mid-to-low-$70s and we still feel that way. Speculators are overly long, seasonals are starting to turn bearish, and the market has probably over-priced supply concern risk premium. Lower oil will likely translate into a lower S&P 500.   


    We aren't ultra-bears in the stock market but we do think the easy money on the upside has been made.  The market looks and feels tired, the weekend trade news celebration was short-lived, and we are seeing trading volume disappear as we head into the summer doldrums.

  • ZB and ES futures trading newsletter

    GDP surprises to the upside, but weak oil futures going into the weekend negates the benefits

    Stronger WTI crude oil futures trade overnight, and the flirting of an upside breakout, had the ES buyers in full bloom. However, the crude rally was rejected by technical resistance and later in the day suffered from a smaller than expected decline in operating rigs in the U.S. Accordingly, the U.S. equity indices failed to hold overnight gains.

    On a positive note, the second estimate of second quarter GDP was reported at 1%. Under normal circumstances, this would be a disappointment but in today's sluggish environment it could almost be categorized as a blockbuster report. To boot, personal spending and personal income ticked higher along with the final reading of Michigan Sentiment.

    This is the first time, in quite a while, we've seen a string of positive economic data. Until now, the trend has been for good news to be followed by bad. Now that data is firming up we have a hard time believing the S&P will revisit the low 1800s any time soon. Nevertheless, the last few trading days in February are normally weak, so we could see a few days of back and filling before heading higher.

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