treasury futures

  • 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

    Historically FOMC minutes have been an afterthought, but in today's climate they are a big deal to futures traders

    The futures markets have been hanging on every word that trickles from the mouths of Federal Reserve members. Even off-handed comments made on their personal time have been moving through the grape vines.

    Today's FOMC minutes didn't offer any surprises. The Fed feels like the U.S. economy is moving in the right direction, which justifies a rate hike. But overseas market turmoil (namely China) has them pressing pause. The market seemed to like what they heard.

    In more bullish equity market news, the Chinese stock market opened for trade today after being closed for an entire week in observance of a national holiday (this is odd to us because it is essentially illegal in the U.S for the stock exchange to be closed more than 3 consecutive days). Once the bell rung, Asian traders bid prices higher to catch up with the global equity market rally that had taken place without them.

  • the financial futures report

    For Futures Traders, the Countdown to the Fed is on

    Six days from now we'll finally find out whether or not the Fed believes initiating a rate hike is a good idea. The investment community is polarized by the debate, and it seems the Fed might be too. We are still of the belief that they won't be looking to make any moves until the October or December meeting (most likely December), but either way the impact on the economy will be minimal.

    Even if they raise the overnight borrowing rate a full percentage point over the next year, funds will be historically cheap. With that said, we will likely see a knee jerk reaction to the first rate hike but that doesn't mean the actual value of financial assets have changed. More often than not, equity markets moved higher overall in the early stages of a rate hike campaign.

  • the financial futures report

    Inflation in check and economic data steady

    Yesterday we learned that October retail sales ticked to .8% beating expectations of .6%. We saw similarly positive news from the Empire Manufacturing index which was a positive 1.5 for the month of November despite a negative reading of 6.8 in the previous month. This morning, the government released the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) suggesting that inflation was stagnant. We'll get a clearer picture tomorrow morning with the CPI (Consumer Price Index) report, but if it is similarly benign we expect Treasuries to move higher on the news.

    From yesterday's newsletter just in case you missed it:

    Although it isn't grabbing headlines like the Treasury market is, the US dollar index likely holds the key to our financial future. If you recall, a stronger dollar puts pressure on commodity prices such as gold, crude oil and even the grains. We are also seeing money from overseas investors rotate into the greenback in search of yield and equity market performance. However, if the dollar continues higher, there could be trouble ahead for domestic asset prices.

    For instance, if the dollar index breaks above 101.50 it would likely result in a breakdown in commodities (below support levels which have been in place for months, and in some cases years). Similarly, Treasuries could continue to plunge. After all, if foreign investors are paying "top dollar" to exchange their currency to purchase securities, current Treasury yields won't be worth their while. They'll be looking to the equity market for gains.

     

  • 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

    This is what professionals call a WTH market (the "H" stands for heck).

     

    Markets undergoing vast changes in their technical outlook on a minute to minute basis are best described as WTH markets.  I have no doubt that investors who have been trained, and thus far rewarded, to "buy the dip" were putting money to work early this morning as the S&P 500 screamed higher, but I also have no doubt they are now remorseful buyers.

    The market looked equally as horrible on the close as it looked fantastic on the open. In such markets, typical market analysis techniques simply don't work and traders attempting to chase prices back and forth will wish they had never heard of momentum indicators.

    In the past, WTH markets have been followed by big moves so traders should approach the S&P with more caution than usual.

  • There is a lot of event risk floating around.


    If it isn't Chinese tariffs, it is a Trump administration investigation or Russian/Syrian turmoil.  We've gone from a world seemingly without risks throughout most of 2017 and early 2018, to a world in which there are peripheral threats in every direction. That said, despite what it feels like volatility isn't as high as it could be. Although we are seeing large point swings in the stock indices, the percentage of the swings is relatively reasonable given the height of the market and associated risks.  Further, the VIX is relatively tame when compared to past volatility.  
    Where the ES goes in the short-run is obviously akin to a crap shoot.  Nevertheless, looking back at historical patterns it is generally a poor idea to bet against the S&P 500 as it is trading in a trough ahead of earnings season; earnings seasons have a tendency to reverse trends.

  • 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.

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