World Food Prices Climb for Second Month in September -FAO

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also raised slightly its projection of global cereal production in 2021, to 2.800 billion tonnes from 2.788 billion tonnes estimated a month ago.

FAO’s food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 130.0 points last month compared with a revised 128.5 for August.

The August figure was previously given as 127.4.

On a year-on-year basis, prices were up 32.8% in September.

Agricultural commodity prices have risen steeply in the past year, fuelled by harvest setbacks and Chinese-fuelled demand.

For cereal production, FAO said its 2021 projection represented a record crop but was nonetheless below expected global demand, leading to a fall in forecast cereal stocks.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Commodity Markets Set for High Volatility, Says Louis Dreyfus

Prices of agricultural commodities have risen sharply, a trend contributing to increased first-half profits reported by LDC, but remain well below peaks seen a decade ago, Michael Gelchie said.

“Unlike in 2010-2011, we’re likely in store for a period of elevated volatility,” Gelchie told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Continued waves of COVID-19, shipping congestion and question marks over when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start tapering monetary support were all fuelling volatility, he said.

“We still haven’t necessarily seen a normalisation of the supply chain,” Gelchie said.

A broader surge in commodity and energy prices also reflected a shift towards a low-carbon economy, given that “the infrastructure to support that costs money,” he added.

LCD, one of the world’s larggest agricultural commodity merchants, earlier on Tuesday announced a sharp rise in first-half profit, supported by higher prices and strong demand for staple crops.

Gelchie declined to comment on the group’s prospects for the rest of the year, noting that prices remained high and crush margins for oilseeds strong.

The improved results further ease financial pressure on LDC after it completed this month the sale of a stake to Abu Dhabi holding firm ADQ, bringing in the first non-family shareholder in the agricultural commodity group’s 170-year history.

The deal with ADQ, which allowed LDC’s parent company to repay $1 billion borrowed from its operating group, would help LDC accelerate investments, Gelchie said, without giving details.

ADQ has secured four seats on an enlarged nine-member supervisory board headed by main shareholder Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.

The deal with LDC also involves a plan to supply food commodities to the United Arab Emirates.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; editing by Barbara Lewis)

Louisiana Grain Terminal Reopens After Hurricane Ida as Nicholas Rains Arrive

Global grain trader Cargill Inc said it had reopened its Westwego, Louisiana, grain export terminal and on Monday unloaded its first grain barge since Ida came ashore on Aug. 29 and crippled shipments from the busiest U.S. grain export hub.

Cargill is the latest major grain trader to revive export operations after Ida devastated the region’s power grid and damaged some of the nearly dozen grain terminals dotted along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.

Heavy rains from Nicholas lashed storm-battered Louisiana again on Tuesday after coming ashore on the Texas Gulf Coast, bringing the threat of floods and more power outages. The storm was expected to move over Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle through Thursday.

Power was finally restored to Cargill’s heavily damaged terminal in Reserve, Louisiana, on Monday for the first time since Ida, but the company is still assessing damages from that storm and developing “phased reopening plans,” Cargill spokeswoman April Nelson said.

Cargill is monitoring rains from Nicholas on Tuesday, but it has not confirmed any impact on recovery efforts, Nelson said.

Rival exporters Louis Dreyfus Co and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co have been loading export shipments for several days, while a facility owned by Bunge Ltd remains shuttered, according to the companies and shipping sources.

CHS Inc and Zen-Noh Grain, which also operate large grain terminals near the Louisiana Gulf Coast, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on their recovery efforts.

U.S. grain exports hit their lowest level in years last week as shippers struggled to restart their facilities at the Gulf, where some 60% of U.S. crop exports exit the country.

The U.S. corn harvest is starting, meaning more grains will be available to move in coming weeks.

Nine grain vessels were loading for export at Gulf terminals and floating rigs this week, up from just three late last week, a barge broker said.

Louisiana state officials said rains from Nicholas are complicating the recovery from Ida, particularly in flooded parishes and those still without power, and in areas along flood-swollen rivers.

“We’ve gone through this sort of thing in the past, where we will get two storms at a time during the peak of hurricane system,” said Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture. “It complicates matters.”

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago, additional reporting by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago, Editing by Franklin Paul and Aurora Ellis)

U.S. Grain Exports Sink as Gulf Terminals Struggle to Recover From Ida

Weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grain inspections data, an early indicator of shipments abroad, showed the volume of corn weighed and certified for export last week was the lowest in 8-1/2 years as no grain was inspected along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, the busiest outlet for U.S. crops.

Soybean inspections were up only slightly from the prior week’s seven-year low as only a single large bulk grain ship bound for top importer China was loaded last week in the Pacific Northwest and none at the Gulf, USDA data showed.

Ida crippled overseas grain shipments just weeks before the start of the Midwest harvest and the busiest period for U.S. crop exports, sending export prices soaring and stoking global worries about food inflation.

Most of the nearly dozen large grain terminals dotted along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico escaped the storm with only minor damage, but the region’s devastated power grid has hobbled the recovery.

More than 50 bulk vessels were lined up along the lower Mississippi River on Monday waiting to dock and load with grain once terminals reopen, and only a handful of ships had moved over the weekend, according to an industry vessel lineup report and Refinitiv Eikon shipping data.

The vessel Yangze Navigation was docked at Zen-Noh Grain terminal in Convent, Louisiana, on Monday waiting to be loaded with corn, the shipping data showed. Another vessel, the Darya Aum, docked over the weekend and was awaiting its soybean cargo at a terminal owned by Louis Dreyfus Co near Baton Rouge that was able to start loading vessels last week.

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co, one of the world’s biggest grain traders, restarted operations on floating midstream rigs that transfer crops from barges onto bulk ships.

The USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) said late last week that its New Orleans field office is still recovering from the storm and that its inspectors are working with exporters to provide official grain inspection and weighing services. The agency has no estimate as to when inspections will fully recover, FGIS said in an emailed statement.

FGIS inspectors checked just 138,189 tonnes of corn in the week through Sept. 9, down 85% from the same week a year ago, USDA data showed. Soybean inspections totaled 105,368 tonnes, down 94% from the same week a year earlier.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Paul Simao)

U.S. Pegs Farm Income at Eight-Year High Amid Strong Corn, Soy Prices

A surge to eight-year highs in U.S. corn and soybean prices this spring has brightened the financial outlook for farmers even as aid payments from the federal government are declining. Crop prices have pulled back from peaks reached in May but remain historically high due to tight global supplies and robust imports from China.

Rising profits have increased farmers’ demand for land, tractors and tools, providing an economic boost to rural towns.

The USDA’s latest forecast is positive for equipment manufacturers such as Deere & Co, AGCO Corp and CPM Holdings, Moody’s Investors Service said in a note.

Farmers in recent years relied on aid payments from the federal government to offset financial losses linked to the U.S.-China trade war and COVID-19 pandemic. However, direct government payments are forecast to fall by 38.6% to $28 billion in 2021 due to reduced COVID-19 relief, after increasing by 103.5% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the USDA.

In February, the USDA predicted net farm income, a broad measure of profits, would fall 8.1% in 2021 due to lower government payments and higher expenses.

Farmers’ production expenses will increase by 7.3% to $383.5 billion in nominal terms this year, according to the USDA. Spending on nearly all types of expenses is expected to rise, the agency said, as U.S. consumers grapple with inflation across a range of products.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Mark Porter)

 

World Food Prices Jump in Aug, Cereal Harvest Outlook Cut – FAO

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also said in a statement that worldwide cereal harvests would come in at nearly 2.788 billion tonnes in 2021, down on its previous estimate of 2.817 billion tonnes but still up on 2020 levels.

FAO’s food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 127.4 points last month compared with 123.5 in July.

The July figure was previously given as 123.0.

On a year-on-year basis, prices were up 32.9% in August.

FAO’s cereal price index was 3.4% higher in August from the previous month, with lower harvest expectations in several major exporting countries shunting up world wheat prices by 8.8% month-on-month, while barely surged 9.0%.

By contrast, maize and international rice prices declined.

FAO’s sugar index rose 9.6% percent from July, pushed up by concerns over frost damage to crops in Brazil, the world’s largest sugar exporter. Good production prospects in India and the European Union helped mitigate these concerns to a degree. Vegetable oil prices rose 6.7%, with palm oil prices hitting historic highs due to continued concerns over production levels and resulting inventory drawdowns in Malaysia. Quotations for rapeseed oil and sunflower oil also rose.

Meat prices edged up slightly in August, as strong purchases from China supported ovine and bovine meat prices and solid import demand from East Asia and the Middle East lifted poultry prices, FAO said.

The dairy price index edged slightly lower on the month.

FAO said the fall in its estimate for world cereal production this year was triggered by persistent drought conditions in several major producing countries.

Among the major cereals, the forecast for wheat production saw the biggest downward revision — down 15.2 million tonnes since July to 769.5 million tonnes — due mainly to adverse weather conditions in the United States, Canada, Kazakhstan and Russia.

The forecast for world cereal utilization in 2021/22 was cut by 1.7 million tonnes from July to 2.809 billion tonnes, still 1.4% higher than in 2020/21.

The estimate for world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2021/22 was lowered by 27.0 million tonnes since July to 809 million tonnes, pointing to a decline of 0.9% on stock levels registered at the start of the period, FAO said.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Gold and Silver Length Cut in Half; Agriculture Bought on Weather Woes

Saxo Bank publishes weekly Commitment of Traders reports (COT) covering leveraged fund positions in commodities, bonds and stock index futures. For IMM currency futures and the VIX, we use the broader measure called non-commercial.

The summary below highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex and financials up until last Tuesday, August 10. A week where hawkish comments from Clarida, the Fed vice-chair and strong jobs report saw markets starting to price in an earlier than expected unwinding of the Fed’s massive stimulus program.

These developments helped trigger a one percent increase in the Bloomberg Dollar index while ten-year inflation protected yields jumped 16 basis points just after hitting a record low. Stocks saw another growth to value rotation while commodities traded mixed with heavy selling in precious metals being partly offset by continued buying across the agriculture sector. Energy and industrial metals also suffering setbacks on demand concerns in response the continued spreading of the delta coronavirus variant.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Spot index lost 1% during the reporting week to August 10, as the continued spreading of the delta coronavirus variant in Asia and parts of the US raised concerns about demand for key commodities such as crude oil and copper. Investment metals slumped on rising yields and dollar while the agriculture sector remained to the go to sector with adverse weather across the world providing a boost to both grains and softs.

Overall, the total net long across 24 major commodity futures was cut by 4% to 2.2 million lots with selling of crude oil, gas oil, gold, silver, and copper being only partly offset by demand for sugar, soybeans, corn, and wheat

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Energy

Continued crude oil weakness saw speculators cut their net length in WTI and Brent for a second week to an eight-month low. This in response to demand worries caused by the rapid spreading of the delta coronavirus variant, not least in China were a relatively small number of cases has led to renewed shutdowns and restrictions on movements.

The combined long was cut by 48k lots to 566k, but just like the previous week reduction, the change was solely driven by long liquidation with no signs of appetite for naked short selling. Probably due to the belief the disruption will be transitory and that OPEC and friends, if necessary, will adjust production to support the price.

Monday morning comment: Crude oil trade lower for a third day with Brent back below $70after key oil consumer China released weaker than expected retail sales and industrial production data and following Friday’s very weak sentiment reading. These developments support IEA’s latest downgrade to demand for the months ahead as a resurgent delta coronavirus variant is impactingdemand across the world. Also, in the US there are signs shale producers are ramping up activities with the number after the number of rigs last week rose by 10 to 397, marking the biggest jump since April.

Metals

Speculators more than halved their gold and silver longs during a very troubling week for precious metals. The week covered a renewed rise in bond yields following Fed vice-chair Clarida’s hawkish comments and the strong jobs report culminating in last Monday’s flash crash. In response to these for metals adverse developments, the gold net length was cut by 52% to 51k lots while the silver length collapsed by 54% to just 12k lots, a fifteen months low.

Platinum, which during the week saw its discount to gold rise to $800 from an April low at $500 saw continued selling with the recently established net short more than doubling to a 13-month high at 9k. Rangebound copper was sold for a second week with the net long dropping 19% to 32k lots, thereby reversing half the buying seen since the June low at 19k lots.

Monday morning comment:

Gold finished last week on a firmer footing after a much weaker than expected University of Michigan sentiment (see below) helped deflate some of the buildup taper angst with Treasury yields and the dollar traded lower ahead of the weekend. Both paused their retreat overnight with gold and silver drifting lower as a result. A major band of resistance has emerged between $1790 and $1815 while support needs to hold around the $1750 area.

Following last Monday’s flash crash, speculators slashed their gold and silver net longs by more than 50% leaving the market exposed to fresh buying on a break higher. This week the market will be watching a speech by Fed chair Powell, as well as minutes of the Fed’s last meeting.

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Agriculture

Continued price gains across the agriculture sector helped drive another week of speculative buying in both grains and softs. Adding to the support was the grain market gearing up for an expected price supportive monthly supply and demand report from the US Department of Agriculture last Thursday. A report that turned out to justify the recent buying, not least in wheat which surged higher on weather related production reductions in the US, Canada and Russia.

The world is potentially facing a supply issue with high protein milling wheat used for human consumption in bread, and that explains why Paris Milling wheat and Kansas HRW wheat both trade higher by more than 10% this month. Overall, the net length in Chicago and Kansas wheat was increased by 10k lots to 64k, still substantially below the interest seen in corn (254k) an soybeans complex (180k)

Sugar is another highflyer due to lower supplies from frost and drought hit regions in Brazil, and news India, the world’s second largest shipper is considering diverting canes towards the production of biofuel to curb imports of increasingly expensive crude oil. The net length in raw sugar futures rose 7% to a five-year high at 265k lots. The cotton long reached a three-year high at 73k lots while the coffee long suffered a setback after the price retraced from a multi-year high above $2/lb.

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Forex

Speculators increased bullish dollar bets in response to the early August strong jobs report and hawkish Clarida comments. The reporting week ended last Tuesday when several currencies was under pressure from a strong greenback, not least the euro which was challenging key support at €1.17. In response to these developments, the net dollar long against ten IMM currency futures and the Dollar index jumped one-third to a fresh 17-month peak at $4.8 billion.

Selling was broad but mostly concentrated in euros, Japanese yen and Aussie dollar while short covering helped flip the Sterling position back to a net long.

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What is the Commitments of Traders report?

The COT reports are issued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the ICE Exchange Europe for Brent crude oil and gas oil. They are released every Friday after the U.S. close with data from the week ending the previous Tuesday. They break down the open interest in futures markets into different groups of users depending on the asset class.

  • Commodities: Producer/Merchant/Processor/User, Swap dealers, Managed Money and other
  • Financials: Dealer/Intermediary; Asset Manager/Institutional; Leveraged Funds and other
  • Forex: A broad breakdown between commercial and non-commercial (speculators)

The reasons why we focus primarily on the behavior of the highlighted groups are:

  • They are likely to have tight stops and no underlying exposure that is being hedged
  • This makes them most reactive to changes in fundamental or technical price developments
  • It provides views about major trends but also helps to decipher when a reversal is looming

Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

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This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Commodity Weekly: Weather Woes Keep Agriculture Commodities on Top

The commodity sector, with the exception of some key food items, remains on the defensive as the current surge in virus cases in major economies clouds the short-term outlook for growth and demand. In addition, the prospect for an earlier-than-expected return to a tightening regime by the US Federal Reserve has helped put upward pressure on bond yields and the dollar, thereby reducing the appeal for investment metals, such as gold and silver.

The macro-economic outlook remains clouded by the current third Covid-19 wave which continues to spread across Asia and parts of the US, thereby creating a great deal of uncertainty with regard to the short-term demand for key growth and demand-dependent commodities from crude oil and gasoline to copper and iron ore. With this in mind, the increased possibility of the US tapering its massive asset purchase program is unlikely to be followed by others, potentially leading to rising US Treasury yields and a stronger dollar.

As in the previous week, pockets of strength remained with several key agriculture commodities continuing to find support following what up until now has been a very volatile weather season across some of the key growing regions of the world. Cold weather in parts of Brazil has hit the sugar cane crop while also causing extensive damage to the region’s coffee as well. Elsewhere, extreme heat leading to dryness have sliced the expectations for this year’s grains crop, especially corn and wheat.

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In its latest World Supply and Demand Outlook (WASDE) the US Department of Agriculture forecast the lowest US wheat harvest in 19 years with global supplies suffering a further downgrade in response to large reductions to estimates from drought-hit fields in Canada and Russia. The prospect for lower shipments from Russia, the world’s biggest exporter, saw the high protein milling wheat future traded in Paris jump to a three-month high above 255 per tons, some 35% above the five-year average.

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Gas prices in Europe rose to another record before retreating with supply concerns being somewhat offset by weaker sentiment in the broader energy market given the latest wave of Covid-19. In the US, gas prices headed for their biggest weekly loss following a bigger-than-expected weekly rise in stocks, but forecast for another incoming heatwave will likely limit the correction with tight winter supplies, just as in Europe, a risk that may continue to support prices ahead of winter.

In Europe, an unexplained reduction in flows from Russia combined with rising competition from Asia for LNG shipments has made it harder to refill already-depleted storage sites ahead of the coming winter. These developments have led to rising demand for coal, thereby forcing industrial users and utilities to buy more pollution permits, the price of which are already trading at record prices. All in all, these developments have led to surging electricity prices which eventually will be forced upon consumers, thereby adding to the already rising cost of everything.

Gold spent most of the week trying to recover from the price collapse that followed the stronger-than-expected US jobs report on August 6. The sell-off culminated during the early hours of the Asian session last Monday when the yellow metal, within a short period, tanked more than 70 dollars. Coming into August, sentiment was already hurt by gold’s inability to rally in response to the July slump in Treasury yields. A drop in yields that concluded just days before the slump when US 10-year inflation-adjusted yields hit a record low at -1.22%.

Having struggled to rally amid favorable yields, gold immediately turned lower at the first sign of higher yields and once key technical levels in the $1750 to $1765 area were taken out, the flood of sell stops during a very illiquid time of day took it briefly down to the March double bottom below $1680, where fresh bids from physical gold buyers in Asia emerged once again.

The short-term outlook remains challenged by the risk of yields and the dollar both moving higher ahead of the late August meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole. The annual symposium which in the past has been used to send signals of changing policies or priorities to the market.

A weekly close above $1765 in gold would create a bullish candle on the chart and it may help send a supportive signal to a market still dizzy following the latest rollercoaster ride. However, in order to look for a recovery, silver needs to join in as well and, so far, it is struggling with the XAUXAG ratio trading above 75 ounces of gold to one ounce of silver, its highest level and silver’s weakest against gold since December.

Copper’s recent and price-supportive focus on potential supply disruptions in Chile eased as BHP workers at the Escondida mine, representing 5% of global output, voted to accept a final wage proposal. In recent weeks, the threat of supply disruptions have offset surging Covid-19 cases and worries about a Chinese slowdown hitting demand. With the risk of disruptions fading the market could, just like oil, see a period of sideways trading while the current virus outbreak is being brought under control.

While resistance has been established above $4.4/lb, support has been equally strong below $4.20/lb. Overall, however, we still see further upside with the price of High-Grade copper eventually reaching $5/lb, but perhaps not until 2022 when continued demand for copper towards the green transformation and infrastructure projects increasingly could leave the market undersupplied.

Crude oil remains one of the biggest losers so far this month, only surpassed by iron ore and silver. Following several months where the main focus was on OPEC+ and its ability to support prices by keeping the market relatively tight, the focus has once again reverted to an uncertain demand outlook caused by the rapid spreading of the Delta coronavirus variant, particularly in key importer China. A development that has led to growth downgrades and raise questions about the short-term demand outlook for oil and fuel products from the world’s biggest buyer.

While some of the major bulls on Wall Street see the disruption from the Delta variant being transitory and only negatively impacting demand for a couple of months, both the IEA and OPEC in their latest monthly oil market reports cut their demand outlook for the remainder of the year. The latest wave is leading to a renewed reduction in mobility around the world with the biggest concern being the flare-up in China, where a still-low number of infected has been met by an aggressive approach to contain the outbreak.

However, the flexibility exhibited by the OPEC+ group during the past year will likely prevent a deeper correction should demand growth suffer a bigger-than-expected headwind from the current outbreak. With this in mind and considering the lack of response from US producers despite high prices, we maintain a constructive view on the direction of prices into yearend.

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Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

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This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Delta Drives Cut in Oil and Copper Longs; Gold Steady Before The Storm

Saxo Bank publishes weekly Commitment of Traders reports (COT) covering leveraged fund positions in commodities, bonds and stock index futures. For IMM currency futures and the VIX, we use the broader measure called non-commercial.

 

The below summary highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex and financials up until last Tuesday, August 3. A relative calm week that saw stocks reach new highs with many companies beating earnings expectations, the yield on 10-year Treasuries reaching a new cycle low while the dollar softened.

All developments that occurred before explosive end of week developments, starting with Wednesday’s hawkish comments from Clarida, the Fed vice-chair, and topped up with Friday’s strong US jobs report. Commodities traded lower led by crude oil and copper in response to the rapid spreading of the delta coronavirus variant and its potential negative growth and demand impact, especially in Asia.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Spot index lost 0.5% during the reporting week to August 3, as the rapid spreading of the delta coronavirus variant in Asia and parts of the US raised concerns about demand for key commodities such as crude oil and copper. These developments were somewhat offset by gains in precious metals as both the dollar and yields softened before the sharp reversal on Friday. The grains market saw a strong adverse weather-related jump in wheat prices.

Overall, these developments resulted in no major change in the overall commodity exposure held by funds with selling of crude oil, soybeans, natural gas and copper being offset by buying in wheat, corn, sugar and silver.

Energy

Crude oil’s late July rally ran out steam after the market attention increasingly turned from OPEC+ to Asia, and especially China, where the delta coronavirus variant continued to spread thereby putting a cloud over the short-term demand outlook. As a result, the net long in WTI and Brent was cut by a combined 18.4k lots to 614k lots, thereby reversing one-third of what was added in the previous week. The bulk of the change led by long liquidation with no signs of increased short-selling activity.

The natural gas long in four Henry Hub deliverable swap and futures contracts was, despite surging prices, cut by 4% to 312k lots. This the fourth consecutive week of net selling has occurred while the price has continued to rally, and it closed the week at $4.14, the highest since December 2018 in response to hot weather and robust export of LNG raising concerns about insufficient stockpiles for the coming winter.

Following the worst week for crude oil in ten months, the market will be watching closely the monthly oil market reports from EIA on Tuesday followed by the IEA and OPEC on Thursday for any signs of changes in the demand outlook. The rapid spreading of the delta coronavirus variant in Asia and parts of the US has seen the market focus switch back to demand worries from OPEC’s ability to keep prices supported by keeping supplies sufficiently tight.

Metals

The gold long, just like the price, held steady with a small net addition of just 851 lots disguising a pickup in short selling interest with traders increasingly seeing the risk of a downside move in response to gold’s week-long failure to respond to a sharp fall in US Treasury yields. A worry that was confirmed on Friday, when the a very strong US jobs report helped push an already weakened price over the edge to record its biggest fall in seven weeks.

Silver meanwhile saw the net long receiving a 22% boost but with the sole driver being short covering. Copper was net sold with virus worries off-setting the risk of a strike related supply disruption in Chile, the world’s number one producer.

With the market focus on jobs over for now, the short-term direction of precious metals could be dictated by U.S. inflation – the other part of the Fed’s mandate – with July CPI due on Wednesday.

Today’s flash crash

Gold (XAUUSD) and silver (XAGUSD) already under pressure following Friday’s stronger than expected US jobs report, suffered a flash crash during the early parts of the Asian session. Following the weak close on Friday both metals had been left vulnerable into the opening, and with both Singapore and Japan on holiday the Asian opening offered even less liquidity than normal. Within minutes gold dropped more than 4% while silver slumped 7%, before pairing losses ahead of the European opening.

Traders have been rattled by golds strange behavior in recent weeks when falling yields failed to boost the price, while last week’s small turnaround in yields triggered an immediate and strong negative response. This sort of capitulation can often coincide with a significant low in the market but for that to happen economic data is required to turn more gold friendly.

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Agriculture

Selling of soybeans were more than offset by strong buying of corn and both wheat contracts on KCB and CBOT. CBOT wheat futures traded close to the May high with adverse weather developments increasingly pointing to tighter global supplies due to expectations of lower output from top exporters Russia and the US. Rains have hurt grain quality in parts of Europe and China, while heat and drought have slashed the production outlook in Russia and North America. Apart from ongoing weather developments the market will also be watching a monthly supply and demand report from the US Department of Agriculture on Thursday.

Forex

A mild bout of dollar weakness in the week to last Tuesday, saw speculators reduce bullish dollar bets from a 17-month high by 18% to $3.6 billion. This before Clarida the Fed vice-chair’s hawkish comment on Wednesday and Friday’s across the board strong jobs report saw the 10-year Treasury yield climb to 1.3% and the dollar strengthen against it major peers, not least the Euro which ended the week at a four-month low.

The mentioned change was primarily driven by GBP and JPY buying. The sterling position returned to neutral while the yen short was reduced to a six-week low. Overall, and just like the previous week, the overriding theme was the reduction in positions, both long and short, as the peak summer holiday period continues to reduce risk appetite.

What is the Commitments of Traders report?

The COT reports are issued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the ICE Exchange Europe for Brent crude oil and gas oil. They are released every Friday after the U.S. close with data from the week ending the previous Tuesday. They break down the open interest in futures markets into different groups of users depending on the asset class.

Commodities: Producer/Merchant/Processor/User, Swap dealers, Managed Money and other
Financials: Dealer/Intermediary; Asset Manager/Institutional; Leveraged Funds and other
Forex: A broad breakdown between commercial and non-commercial (speculators)

The reasons why we focus primarily on the behavior of the highlighted groups are:

  • They are likely to have tight stops and no underlying exposure that is being hedged
  • This makes them most reactive to changes in fundamental or technical price developments
  • It provides views about major trends but also helps to decipher when a reversal is looming

Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

Start trading now

This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Virus and Yield Rise Clouding Short-Term Commodity Outlook

The commodity sector began August on the defensive on a combination of weakness in Chinese economic data and the rapid spreading delta coronavirus variant causing renewed worries about the short-term demand outlook. Growth-dependent commodities such as crude oil and industrial metals traded lower while precious metals, having struggled to rally in response to the July slump in US Treasury yields, traded lower as yields and the dollar rose following hawkish Fed comments and a very strong US job report.

Pockets of strength remained with agriculture commodities such as sugar and wheat receiving a boost from what so far has been a very volatile weather season across some of the key growing regions of the world. Gas prices trading at a 2 ½-year high in the US and at record levels in Europe was another area that continued to exhibit strength amid tight supply at a time of strong demand, both raising concerns that stockpiles may not build sufficiently ahead of the peak winter demand period.

Despite another Covid-19 related cloud, the macro-economic outlook remains supportive with strong growth in Europe and the US somewhat off-setting concerns in Asia where the virus has penetrated fortress China resulting in renewed lockdowns and down revisions to growth.

The copper market, while rangebound, has during the past couple of months gone from being very bullish to more cautious. A whole host of opposing forces have in recent weeks been pulling the price in opposite directions, thereby causing some uncertainty as to the short-term direction. Overall, however, we still see further upside with the price of High-Grade copper eventually reaching $5/lb, but perhaps not until 2022 when continued demand for copper towards green transformation and infrastructure projects increasingly could leave the market undersupplied. Despite the risk of a slowdown in China, demand growth elsewhere will highlight the risk of rising demand not being met – at least in the medium term – by rising supply which tends to be quite inelastic.

Currently, supporting the price of copper is the risk of simultaneous strike disruptions at three major mines in Chile, including Escondida, the biggest mine. However, against that we see uncertainty related to signs of a slowdown in China and the general growth impact of the current spreading of the Delta coronavirus variant. Demand for refined copper has also received a small setback after Chinese policymakers reversed a planned ban to scrap metal imports, and finally Fed vice-chair Clarida’s hawkish comments earlier this week about normalization could further dampen investor appetite for metals as a diversifier and inflation hedge.

CBOT wheat futures traded close to the May high before suffering a small bout of profit taking. Adverse weather developments increasingly point to tighter global supplies due to expectations of lower output from top exporters Russia and the US. Rains have hurt grain quality in parts of Europe and China, while heat and drought have slashed the production outlook in Russia and North America. According to the latest COT report, speculators have only just flipped their position in wheat back to a net long, and further positive price momentum, supported by bullish fundamentals, may force them to chase the market higher.

However, in the short term, mounting cases of the Delta coronavirus variant may raise doubts over the level of demand while some major consuming nations such as Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey have backed off from purchases in recent weeks. Under pressure from rising prices, the Egyptian President is even considering raising the price of the country’s subsidized bread. Something that was last attempted in 1977 when then President Anwar Sadat reversed a price rise in the face of riots.

Natural gas prices across the world remain bid on a combination of hot weather driving increased demand for cooling and rising demand from industry as the global economy bounces back from the pandemic. In the US, the price of Henry Hub is trading above $4/MMBtu, the highest price for this time of year in at least ten years on a combination of rising domestic demand and rising LNG exports. This comes at a time when production has struggled to pick up, especially due to the slow recovery in shale oil production, from which gas is a byproduct.

Much worse is the situation Europe where prices have reached record levels. An unexplained reduction in flows from Russia, combined with rising competition from Asia for LNG shipments, has made it harder to refill already-depleted storage sites ahead of the coming winter. These developments have led to rising demand for coal, thereby forcing industrial users and utilities to buy more pollution permits, the price of which are already trading at record prices.

All in all, these developments have led to surging electricity prices which eventually will be forced upon consumers across the continent, thereby causing a major headache for governments and potentially challenging the political will to decarbonize the economy at the agreed rapid pace.

Crude oil traded lower and following several months where the main focus was on OPEC+ and its ability to support prices by keeping the market relatively tight, the focus once again reverted to an uncertain demand outlook caused by the rapid spreading of the Delta coronavirus variant, particularly in key importer China. A development that has led to growth downgrades and raise questions about the short-term demand outlook for oil and fuel products from the world’s biggest buyer.

The latest developments justify the continued cautious approach by OPEC+ towards raising production too fast, too soon. It also highlights why Saudi Arabia and other leading members of the group has been keen on prolonging the current quota system beyond next April.

The flexibility exhibited by the OPEC+ group during the past year will likely prevent a deeper correction should demand growth suffer a bigger-than-expected headwind from the current outbreak. With this in mind and considering the lack of response from US producers despite high prices, we maintain constructive view on the direction of prices.

Precious metals

Having just returned from my holiday, the first question I had to ask was why gold was not trading quite a bit higher? During the past month, US Treasury yields have seen steep declines and with inflation expectations not changing much, the inflation-adjusted rate, or real yield, slumped to a record low at -1.22%. Given the historical strong inverse correlation between real yields and gold, the failure this past month to rally has caused a great deal of head scratching among participants, potentially resulting in some long liquidation for fear that a recovery in yields may not be met by the same level of inaction.

A worry that was confirmed on Wednesday when the first signs of recovering yields emerged in response to hawkish comments from Fed vice-chair Clarida discussing the interest tightening path. The comments which helped send the dollar and yields higher was given additional credibility following a very strong US job report for July.

Silver meanwhile has witnessed an even greater exodus with its relative value against gold falling to a six-month low after the gold-silver ratio traded back above 72 ounces of silver to one ounce of gold. Responding to this disappointing performance, hedge funds recently cut their net long to just 21k lots, a 14-month low. Silver will need to see the ratio break back below 70 in order to return to the driving seat, but for that to happen gold would first need to weather the potential short-term challenge triggered by recovering yields.

With gold and silver drifting lower, the hardest hit of the semi-industrial metals is platinum which has seen its discount to gold widen to 800 dollars from an April low at 300. Reasons being the current chip shortage which has curbed auto production, rising sales of EV’s and the current spreading of the delta variant.

Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Northern U.S. Plains Drought Shrivels Spring Wheat Crop to Smallest in 33 Years, USDA Says

The shortfall in spring wheat, which typically represents a quarter of total U.S. wheat production, means tighter supplies of the variety used in bread and pizza dough, prized by millers for its quality and high protein content.

Benchmark futures prices on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange surged more than 5% after the USDA slashed its 2021 spring wheat harvest outlook to 345 million bushels, down 41% from a year earlier and the smallest since 1988. Chicago Board of Trade winter wheat contracts followed suit, gaining 3% to 4%.

Soaring U.S. wheat prices will further pinch import-dependant nations that have struggled with food inflation and climbing costs for shipping grain around the world.

A harsh drought in the Canadian Prairies is threatening to pare supplies of the high-protein grain even further. Both nations export the majority of their spring wheat.

“The spring wheat production is a lot weaker than expected and has been heading south. There’s just nothing good to say about this spring wheat crop,” said Jack Scoville, analyst with the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

“Wheat millers are going to pay, and so are we. The good news is that there’s only few cents worth of wheat in each loaf of bread or package of cereal. But even so, it’s going to creep up,” Scoville said.

Spring wheat production losses should be partially offset by a large U.S. winter wheat harvest, but U.S. supplies are still projected at the tightest in eight years, the USDA said.

Late on Monday, the USDA rated just 16% of the U.S. spring wheat crop in good-to-excellent condition, the lowest early-July level since 1988.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen and Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Alistair Bell)

 

World Food Prices Fall in June for First Time in a Year – FAO

The Rome-based FAO also said in a statement that worldwide cereal harvests would come in at nearly 2.817 billion tonnes in 2021, slightly down on its previous estimate, but still on course to hit an annual record.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 124.6 points last month versus a revised 127.8 in May.

The May figure was previously given as 127.1.

On a year-on-year basis, prices were up 33.9% in June.

FAO’s vegetable oil price index plunged 9.8% in June, partly on the back of a fall in palm oil prices, which were hit by expectations of output gains in leading producers and a lack of fresh import demand. Soy and sunflower oil quotations also dropped.

The cereal price index dropped 2.6% in June month-on-month, but was still up 33.8% year-on-year. Maize prices fell 5.0%, partly because of higher-than-expected yields in Argentina and improved crop conditions in the United States.

International rice prices also fell in June, touching 15-month lows, as high freight costs and container shortages continued to limit export sales, FAO said.

Dairy prices dipped 1.0% on a monthly basis, with all components of the index easing. Butter recorded the largest drop, hit by a rapid decline in global import demand and a slight increase in inventories, especially in Europe.

The sugar index posted a 0.9% month-on-month gain, reaching its highest level since March 2017. FAO said uncertainties over the impact of unfavourable weather conditions on crop yields in Brazil, the world’s largest sugar exporter, pushed prices up.

The meat index rose 2.1% from May, with quotations for all meat types rising as increases in imports by some East Asian countries compensated for a slowdown in China’s meat purchases.

FAO said the slight fall in its estimate for world cereal production this year was principally triggered by a sharp cut to the Brazilian maize production forecast as prolonged periods of dry weather weighed on yield expectations.

Global wheat production prospects also retreated this month, as dry weather in the Near East hurt yield prospects there. By contrast, the forecast for global rice output in 2021 edged up.

The forecast for world cereal utilization in 2021/22 was cut by 15 million tonnes from the previous month to 2.810 billion tonnes, still 1.5% higher than in 2020/21.

World cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2021/22 are now expected to rise above their opening levels for the first time since 2017/18. “Higher maize stocks foreseen in China account for the bulk of this month’s upward revision to world cereal inventories,” FAO said.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Editing by Crispian Balmer)

 

Longs in Oil and Grains Trimmed Ahead of Key Risk Events

Saxo Bank publishes weekly Commitment of Traders reports (COT) covering leveraged fund positions in commodities, bonds and stock index futures. For IMM currency futures and the VIX, we use the broader measure called non-commercial.

The below summary highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex and financials up until last Tuesday, June 29. A week where risk-on courtesy of stable Treasury yields and an unchanged dollar helped drive the VIX index to a 16-month low and U.S. stocks, especially the Nasdaq to fresh record highs. Commodities generally traded higher with the Bloomberg Commodity Index rising 1.8% thereby supporting speculative net buying in 14 out of the 24 futures contracts tracked in this report.

Commodities

The commodity sector returned to form with broad gains seen across most sectors, thereby leaving the Bloomberg Commodity Index up by 1.8% on the week. The most noticeable exceptions being precious metals where gold-selling continued, grains where positions were adjusted lower ahead of important acreage and stock reports last Wednesday, and also crude oil where some profit-taking emerged ahead of the OPEC+ meeting. The 3% increase in the total net long to 2.3 million lots or $134.6 billion nominal value was led by natural gas (+61.4k lots), RBOB Gasoline (7.3k), wheat (7.8k), cotton (9.3), and HG Copper (8.3k). The biggest reductions were seen in WTI crude oil (-14.2k) and the soybean complex.

Energy

Despite a continued rally in crude oil during the reporting week, speculators opted to make a small reduction ahead of last week’s OPEC+ meeting. Selling was most pronounced in WTI with the bulk of the overall 3% reduction to 408k lots being long liquidation with no signs of short sellers emerging.

Latest

Crude oil trades close to unchanged with market participants trying to decipher what happens next within the OPEC+ group following a rare diplomatic spat between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The UAE is looking for better terms and have so far refused the join a deal that would increase production by 400k bpd per month from August to December. At stake if the unity weakens, is the group’s ability to continue to control prices, and with this in mind the market is still refusing to believe that a deal will not be struck eventually. The OPEC+ meeting look set to resume Monday afternoon Vienna time. Twitter users can follow developments on Twitter by using #OOTT and #OPEC.

Metals

Speculators cut bullish gold bets by 5% to an eight-week low in the week to June 29, mostly due to fresh short selling. It highlights the prospect for a potential short-covering rally on a break above $1814. Silver and platinum both got bought with buyers also returning to copper for the first time in two months to lift the net long by 43% to 27.6k lots.

Latest

Gold trades near a two-week high, and resistance at $1795 as concerns over an earlier-than expected rate hike by the Federal Reserve eased following a mixed bag of U.S. job data on Friday. However, with U.S. ten-year real yields reaching low levels last seen prior to the mid-June FOMC meeting, the recovery so far looks anything but impressive. Focus this week on FOMC minutes and the dollar which currently provides most of the directional input. Speculators meanwhile cut bullish gold bets by 5% to an eight-week low in the week to June 29, mostly due to fresh short selling. It highlights the prospect for a renewed short-covering rally on a break above $1814.

Agriculture

Ahead of key acreage and stock reports from the USDA last week, the grain market saw a small net reduction in bullish bets primarily driven by a reduction in all three soybean contracts on rising short selling. Speculators meanwhile, and rightfully so, maintained their belief in higher corn prices by increasing the net long by 1% to 245k lots. Wheat was mixed with the selling of CBOT returning the net position to neutral while the net long in Kansas wheat received a 53% boost to 22.7k lots on emerging drought worries.

Forex

In forex, broad dollar buying continued albeit at a slower pace than the previous week when the market reacted to the mid-June hawkish FOMC meeting. Speculators cut their greenback short against ten IMM currency futures and the Dollar index to a nine-week low at $11 billion. Dollar buying was most noticeable against the JPY which despite trading close to unchanged on the week saw bearish bets jump 30% or 16k lots to a two-year high at $7.9 billion equivalent. Long liquidation was seen in EUR (-1.9k), CHF (-2.5k) while small buying was seen in CAD (+2.6k) and MXN (+9k)

Financials

What is the Commitments of Traders report?

The COT reports are issued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the ICE Exchange Europe for Brent crude oil and gas oil. They are released every Friday after the U.S. close with data from the week ending the previous Tuesday. They break down the open interest in futures markets into different groups of users depending on the asset class.

Commodities: Producer/Merchant/Processor/User, Swap dealers, Managed Money and other
Financials: Dealer/Intermediary; Asset Manager/Institutional; Leveraged Funds and other
Forex: A broad breakdown between commercial and non-commercial (speculators)

The reasons why we focus primarily on the behavior of the highlighted groups are:

  • They are likely to have tight stops and no underlying exposure that is being hedged
  • This makes them most reactive to changes in fundamental or technical price developments
  • It provides views about major trends but also helps to decipher when a reversal is looming

Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

Start trading now

This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Dollar and Metals Sold, Energy Bought Ahead of FOMC

Saxo Bank publishes weekly Commitment of Traders reports (COT) covering leveraged fund positions in commodities, bonds and stock index futures. For IMM currency futures and the VIX, we use the broader measure called non-commercial.

The below summary highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex and financials up until last Tuesday, June 15. A week that covered the period up until last week’s FOMC meeting and the hawkish surprise it delivered. Apart from a weaker dollar which attracted additional short selling, some of the other markets, most noticeable commodities had already started to see rising risk adversity, while bond yields crept lower before starting a rollercoaster ride which eventually today has led it back to unchanged pre-FOMC levels. The Bloomberg commodity index traded softer by 2.2% as the rotation out of agriculture and metals into energy continued.

Commodities

The commodity sector saw a small amount of net selling ahead of last week’s FOMC meeting, but behind the 1% reduction to 2.4 million lots we found a week where speculators continued to rotate out of agriculture and metals, both industrial and precious, and into energy, especially crude oil. Chinese efforts to curb industrial metal prices, lower gold prices on reduced inflation expectations as the market “buy” into the transitory message from central banks, and improved weather and growing conditions in the U.S. have all led to long liquidation and reduced appetite for exposure in these sectors.

Energy

The combined net long in oil and fuel products (ex. natural gas) reached 977k lots, the biggest bet on rising energy prices since October 2018. While industrial metals have suffered what looks like a short-term setback on rising market intervention by Chinese authorities and reduced focus on reflation, the energy sector has increasingly become the go to commodities. This in the belief that OPEC+ in the near-term will maintain market tightness as global demand continues to recover, and later on due to increased concerns that lack of CAPEX spent on new production could leave the market undersupplied from late 2022 and onwards.

The combined net long Brent and WTI crude oil reached 737k lots, again a level of exposure that was last exceeded in October 2018. A tightening spread to Brent and speculation that storage levels at Cushing, the WTI futures delivery hub, could shrink further amid strong Midwest refinery demand helped drive a 35% reduction in the gross short, thereby supporting a spike in the long/short ratio to a three-year high at 22.8 longs per one short position. While highlighting the risk a market at risk of becoming one-sided it also shows the strong belief in higher prices currently being exhibited by investors.

Metals

Bullish gold bets were scaled back for a second week with profit taking and fresh short selling emerging ahead of the FOMC meeting and following the recent rejection above $1900. The 10% reduction reduced the net long to 114k lots, a four week low. Silver saw a small amount of buying while copper longs were cut to just 20k lots, a one-year low and some 71k lots below the peak from last October. Once the weak technical outlook, supported by an expected improvement in the fundamental outlook, starts turning the price may see a strong bounce from buyers returning.

Agriculture

The grain and soybean sector continued to deflate with speculators cutting the combined net long in corn, wheat and soybeans by 15% to 352k lots, the lowest since last October. While the wheat net-short extended to 8.4k lots it was corn and not least soybeans that saw most of the selling. This on a combination of improved weather raising production expectations and potentially a reduction in demand for biofuels to be blended with gasoline.

Forex

In forex, the flows across ten IMM currency futures and the Dollar Index were very mixed but overall they resulted in continued dollar selling with the net short reaching a three-month high at $19.3 billion.

However, as can be seen from the table below, speculators were in general risk-off mode across the major pairs with both long and short positions being reduced. This just the day before the FOMC sprung a hawkish surprise which helped send the Greenback sharply higher to record its fourth straight week of gains, thereby challenging the short dollar consensus trade.

What is the Commitments of Traders report?

The COT reports are issued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the ICE Exchange Europe for Brent crude oil and gas oil. They are released every Friday after the U.S. close with data from the week ending the previous Tuesday. They break down the open interest in futures markets into different groups of users depending on the asset class.

Commodities: Producer/Merchant/Processor/User, Swap dealers, Managed Money and other
Financials: Dealer/Intermediary; Asset Manager/Institutional; Leveraged Funds and other
Forex: A broad breakdown between commercial and non-commercial (speculators)

The reasons why we focus primarily on the behavior of the highlighted groups are:

  • They are likely to have tight stops and no underlying exposure that is being hedged
  • This makes them most reactive to changes in fundamental or technical price developments
  • It provides views about major trends but also helps to decipher when a reversal is looming

Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

Start trading now

This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Speculators Keep Piling Into Agriculture Commodities

Saxo Bank publishes weekly Commitment of Traders reports (COT) covering leveraged fund positions in commodities, bonds and stock index futures. For IMM currency futures and the VIX, we use the broader measure called non-commercial.

The below summary highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex, bonds and stock indices up until last Tuesday, April 27. A week where U.S. index futures resumed their ascent, the dollar continued lower while US Treasury yields ticked higher, while staying within their established ranges. Commodities surged higher led by very strong gains in grains and soft commodities.

Commodities

Money managers increased bullish commodities bets with the total net long across 24 major commodity futures rising by 4% to 2.5 million lots, representing a nominal value of $137 billion. This in response to a 3.6% rise in the Bloomberg Commodity index to a fresh ten year high. The bulk of the increase was concentrated in grains and soft commodities which rallied by 8.6% and 7.3% respectively. The biggest individual position increases was seen in sugar, coffee, wheat, gas, oil and copper.

Energy

The combined net long in crude oil reached a six-week high at 677k, with the increase being led by WTI while speculators kept an almost unchanged position in Brent, primarily due to an increased amount of naked short selling. The biggest change was seen in gas oil where the net long came close to a one-year high.

Latest: Crude oil futures trade lower for a second day with the uneven demand recovery creating a somewhat challenging outlook. In India, April gasoline demand fell to the lowest level since August and increased curbs on mobility may trigger further declines into May. This at a time when higher fuel consumption is being recorded in the U.S., China and the U.K. and OPEC+ during the next three months begins to add barrels back into the market. The outlook is further being clouded by uncertainty about U.S. production growth and Iran nuclear negotiations where a deal could trigger rising production. For now, Brent crude oil trades within an ascending channel, currently between $64 and $69.

Metals

A relatively quiet week in precious metals with gold’s failure to build on the recent break above $1765 attracting fresh short selling resulting in the bulk of the 6k reduction in the net long being driven by new short positions. Silver length increased by 8% and platinum by 25% on tailwinds from surging industrial metals. The 6.3% rally in HG copper helped attract new longs with the net rising by 23% to 55.5k lots, still well below the December peak at 91.5k lots and the 2017 record at 125k lots.

Latest: Gold (XAUUSD) and silver (XAGUSD) continue to frustrate bulls and bears alike given their inability to break current ranges. Both trading higher today after surviving another downside attempt on Friday when the dollar suddenly jumped. US Treasury yields continue to trade range bound with rising breakeven (inflation expectations) being offset by lower real yields. Speculators cut length in COMEX futures last week while ETF holdings remain stuck near a one-year low. Current range in gold being $1755 to $1800.

Agriculture

Most of the speculative buying last week was concentrated in the agriculture sector (ex. livestock) with most grains and softs contracts seeing strong gains. Most noticeable being the strong gains in corn, wheat, sugar and coffee with dry weather in South America and the U.S. plains hurting the production prospects. The combined long in corn, soybeans and wheat reached a fresh record and with the latter well below previous peak positions, further length could be added over the coming weeks. In softs, the coffee long almost doubled while the sugar long jumped by 15% to 258k lots, the third highest exposure on record.

Latest: The Bloomberg Grains Spot index, already at an 8 year high continues higher today led by corn (CORNJUL21) and (WHEATJUL21). In corn, the spread between the July (old crop) and December (new crop) contracts has widened to 115 cents per bushel, and it highlights the current stress in the spot market as a powerful La Nina disrupts harvests in Brazil with dry weather cutting the production outlook by 8% to 104m tons. Adding to the current unease has been record Chinese imports while US planting progress and weather developments will be watched for clues as to the direction of the new crop contracts, such as December. Weekly U.S. planting progress data due later at 20:00 GMT

Forex

Broad speculative dollar selling lifted the net short against ten IMM currency futures and the Dollar Index by 30% to $10.3 billion, a six week high. The dollar was sold against all the major currencies with the bulk of the change being led by short-covering in Japanese yen where 11k lots ($1,3 bn equivalent) was bought.

What is the Commitments of Traders report?

The COT reports are issued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the ICE Exchange Europe for Brent crude oil and gas oil. They are released every Friday after the U.S. close with data from the week ending the previous Tuesday. They break down the open interest in futures markets into different groups of users depending on the asset class.

Commodities: Producer/Merchant/Processor/User, Swap dealers, Managed Money and other.

Financials: Dealer/Intermediary; Asset Manager/Institutional; Leveraged Funds and other.

Forex: A broad breakdown between commercial and non-commercial (speculators).

The reasons why we focus primarily on the behavior of the highlighted groups are:

  • They are likely to have tight stops and no underlying exposure that is being hedged.
  • This makes them most reactive to changes in fundamental or technical price developments.
  • It provides views about major trends but also helps to decipher when a reversal is looming.

Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

Start trading now

This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Another Year of Plenty Awaits the Grain Market

What is our trading focus?

  • WHEATJUL20 – CBOT Wheat
  • CORNJUL20 – Corn
  • SOYBEANSJUL20 – Soybeans

Grain prices are generally trading softer following the monthly release yesterday of the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report (WASDE) from the US Department of Agriculture.

This was the first report to include projections for ending stocks at the end of the new 2020-21 crop year which runs until August next year. Across the board, another year of plenty of supplies is being projected with only a deteriorating weather outlook over the coming months preventing another bumper harvest in the U.S. and around the world.

Key takeaways:

Corn: Supplies will rise to their highest in 33 years due to massive plantings and what is expected to be a record crop in the 2020/21 marketing year.

Soybeans: The USDA raised its fore forecast of 2019-20 soybean ending stocks to 580 million bushels, up from 480 million last month and above the highest expectations. For 2020-21 the ending stocks was projected to fall to 405 million bushels, below the average estimate.

Wheat: While lowering the projected 2020-21 U.S. ending stocks to 909 million bushels from 978 million this year, it was still well above expectations at 819 million. Adding further pressure to U.S. wheat prices was the a jump in global ending stocks to a record 310 million tons. A recovery in Russian and Australian productions thereby making it harder for U.S. farmers to compete for export orders, unless the dollar should weaken over the coming period.

The uptrend in wheat from the 2019 low is once again being challenged with a break below $5.05/bu on the continuation chart signalling an extension to the next key level of support at $4.91/bu, the March 17 low.

Corn meanwhile remains stuck near a 13-year low with support at the psychological important $3/bu level so far holding. The price has struggled amid the outlook for another bumper crop emerging across the U.S. plains together with stiff competition from producers in Argentina and Brazil both reaping the benefit from much weaker currency. Adding to the recent weakness has been the collapsing oil price as it has cut demand from ethanol producers who normally account for one-third of U.S. demand.

Soybeans has been trading sideways for the past two years with the price struggling to move higher from a near 12 year low around $8/bu. Worries about Chinese demand as the Covid-19 blame game heats up and the mentioned competition from exporters in Brazil and Argentina are two of the main obstacles keeping the price down.

Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank.

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This article is provided by Saxo Capital Markets (Australia) Pty. Ltd, part of Saxo Bank Group through RSS feeds on FX Empire

Grain Futures Update – 12/20/2019

With the Phase One Trade Deal signed, Stephen discusses how China will impact the grains through the use of monthly charts.

If you found this article insightful, please consider a complimentary subscription to the weekly RJO FuturesCast newsletter.


The risk of loss in trading futures and/or options is substantial and each investor and/or trader must consider whether this is a suitable investment. Past performance, whether actual or indicated by simulated historical tests of strategies, is not indicative of future results. Trading advice is based on information taken from trades and statistical services and other sources that believed to be reliable. We do not guarantee that such information is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. Trading advice reflects our good faith judgment at a specific time and is subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that the advice we give will result in profitable trades.

Negative Week for Grain Prices Due to Weather and Optimism in Trade

Grains such as soybeans, corn, and wheat are trading with a negative note on Friday as investors are closing positions ahead of the weekend. Agricultural futures are ready to close the week with losses.

Soybean contracts down for the second day

ZS1 Soybean Futures 1-hour chart Sept 6
ZS1 Soybean Futures 1-hour chart Sept 6

Soybean is trading in consolidation mode after the deep decline performed on Thursday. Investors are trading in profit-taking mode ahead of the weekend.

On Thursday, soy was rejected by the 8.80 area, and it fell 1.60% to close at 8.61. On Friday, the grain attempted a recovery, but the dovish pressure was too intense, and it is now trading 0.12% down.

On the week, soybean is ready to close its third negative week in the last four, this time with a drop of 0.80% in the period. The unit has been trading in a range between 8.62 and 8.80 for a month.

Technical indicators are suggesting more room for the downside. However, the mentioned 8.62, and the 8.45 area are containing the unit.

Corn breaks below 3.56 and trades at near 4-month lows

ZC1 Corn Futures 1-hour chart Sept 6
ZC1 Corn Futures 1-hour chart Sept 6

Corn is trading negative on Friday after a brief period of consolidation on Thursday. However, the picture is really dovish and even more now that the pair broke below the 3.56 support and is trading at 3.55, its lowest level since May 13.

Currently, futures of corn are trading at 3.56, 0.63% negative on the day. Technical conditions remain bearish for the unit with the 3.50 and 3.40 areas as next support zones.

On the week, corn resumed its free-fall from 3.76 after the recovery performed the previous week. This time, corn contracts are falling 3.60% on the period. The technical picture is also very dovish.

Wheat stops two days of gains and falls on Friday

ZW1 Wheat 1-hour chart September 6
ZW1 Wheat 1-hour chart September 6

Wheat is trading down on Friday as investors are taking profits ahead of the weekend and after two days of gains. The grain is trading 0.75% down at 4.62, and it is heading to test the 4.60 area.

On the week, futures of wheat are fighting to close the period in positive, but the odds are against it as technical indicators are suggesting more declines before the end of the session. Wheat is trading 0.05% negative on the week.

Coffee on consolidation mode below 100.00

Futures of coffee has been trading in a small range between 95.00 and 98.00 during the whole week. Consequently, the unit is posting a weekly decline, but the drop is not that much. Coffee contracts have declined 1.50% in the week.

Soybeans, Corn Collapsed After a Good AMIS Report

Grains such as soybeans, corn, and wheat are trading down on Thursday as investors are digesting the latest AMIS crop report and optimistic news about new trade talks.

The market sentiment improved considerably on Thursday. Investors welcomed the announcement of a new round of trade talks between the United States and China in October.

However, a new crop report showing that forecast for supply in grains was lifted sharply, “mostly reflecting a massive upward revision for the US,” pushed prices down.

According to the Agricultural Market Information System market monitor for September, “world maize production has been lifted sharply in view of a massive upward revision for the US. Rice production is also seen higher while wheat production is expected to increase to a record. In the case of soybeans, a projected year-on-year decline in output is unlikely to become a concern, as overall supplies remain adequate, especially given the dampening impact of African Swine Fever on feed demand in China.”

AMIS highlighted that money managers liquidated long positions in wheat and corn, “establishing modest short holdings for both.” However, in the case of soybeans, “it added to its net short position m/m.”

Soybeans down on Thursday and lost two days of gains

ZS1 Soybean 1-hour chart September 5
ZS1 Soybean 1-hour chart September

Futures of soybean are trading down on Thursday as investors are digesting the latest AMIS report. Improving supply expectations and long position liquidations are pushing prices lower.

Early in the day, soybeans traded higher to 8.78, intra-day high. But the news and a rejection of that level sent the unit down to 8.65. The contract of soy is now priced at 8.65, which is 1.10% negative on the day.

Technical indicators are suggesting more declines in the short and middle term. The next support is at 8.63, followed by the 8.60 area. Be aware of stop-loss triggering below 8.60.

Corn consolidates losses around 3.59

ZC1 Corn 1-hour chart September 5
ZC1 Corn 1-hour chart September 5

Corn is trading positive on Thursday for the first time in the last five sessions as investors are digesting the AMIS report.

“In the US, the crop is progressing under mixed conditions across much of the corn belt due to the late sowing this season,” the report says. “Final yields will depend on how the weather performs over the next month.”

In this framework, futures of corn attempted to bounce from 3.56 per bushel, but the 3.61 level contained the unit. Corn is now trading 0.10% positive on the day at 3.58, but it is losing steam.

Wheat posts second day of gains, but it stopped its advance

ZW1 Wheat 1-hour chart September 5
ZW1 Wheat 1-hour chart September 5

Wheat is performing its second day of gains on Thursday, but recent crop report news hurt the unit and it pared gains at 4.69.

The unit is now trading at 4.66, 1.03% positive in the day. Oscillators are suggesting a turn in the direction for the unit, but the 4.64 is supporting the contract. Watch out for the 4.60 area, followed by the 4.56 and 4.50 levels for supports.

Grains Mixed on Better Crop Conditions and Hopes for US Grains Demand

Soybeans, corn, and wheat are trading mixed on Wednesday as grain investors are digesting news from the USDA regarding crop ratings and US grain exports.

Soybeans higher amid robust export inspections

ZW1 Wheat futures 1-hour chart September 4
ZW1 Wheat futures 1-hour chart September 4

Soybeans are trading positive for the third day in a row, but the movement remains in a small range between 8.60 and 8.80. Investors welcomed news about an increase in export inspections.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported they inspected 1.28 million metric tons of soybeans for overseas delivery between August 23 and 29, which was a 33% increase from the previous seven days and also an increase from the 776.277 metric tonnes reported in the same period of 2018.

Soybean investors are taking the news as a signal that the demand from U.S. supplies has started to grow again.

Besides, the weekly crop report was released and showed that soybeans crop remained unchanged with a 55% rated good/excellent, which is considerably lower than the 66% a year ago. Soybean blooming and pods are also below five-year averages.

In that framework, futures of soybeans attempted a decisive run overnight, but the unit was capped at 8.74. Then, it started to fall to current levels around 8.69. Soy is currently flat on the day.

However, the odds have changed for soybeans as technical indicators are signaling a bullish extension is gaining momentum in the daily chart. The positive sentiment is even more prominent in the 1-hour chart with oscillators and moving average pointing to the upside too.

If the pair holds above the 8.68, it will recover until the 8.74 again. Then, 8.78 is waiting for the unit.

To the downside, below the 8.68, soybean contracts will find buying interest at 8.62 and 8.60.

Corn extends decline for the fourth day

ZC1 Corn futures 1-hour chart September 4
ZC1 Corn futures 1-hour chart September 4

Futures of corn are trading lower again on Wednesday as investors crop conditions have improved in the last week. Corn is now heading to test August 14 low at 3.58.

Corn crops were rated 58% good or excellent, above the 57% condition the previous week. According to the USDA, corn was in dough stage at 81%, well below the 93% in the five-year average.

Earlier in the day, corn was trading slightly positive, but after failing at the 3.63 level, it started to fall and it broke Tuesday’s lows at 360 and extended drops to the current 3.59. Corn is now 0.50% negative in the day, trading at lows of the session.

Technical indicators suggest that the unit is oversold so that a brief bounce could be expected. However, both the 1-hour and the daily chart suggests more dovishness.

If corn consolidates levels below 3.60, next support will be at 3.58, followed by 3.55 and 2.50. Any potential upside will need the unit to break above 3.63.

Wheat pared gains at 4.60, back to test 4.55

ZW1 Wheat futures 1-hour chart September 4
ZW1 Wheat futures 1-hour chart September 4

Futures of wheat are showing some signal of being alive with its first positive session in the last five trading days. On Wednesday, wheat is consolidating losses after the declined performed since August 28 high around 4.78.

The USDA reported that U.S. spring wheat harvest is 55% completed, well above the 78% average by this time in the previous five years.

Early in the day, wheat tested the 4.60 in an attempt to recover more ground from Tuesday minimums at 4.50. However, the unit was rejected by the 4.60 area, and contracts were sent to be traded at 4.55.

The unit is still 0.45% positive in the day, but technical indicators are signaling that the upside recovery is not too active. A retest of the 4.50 area is expected unless the unit breaks above the 4.60 resistance.