Part of what has contributed to this very unexpected ( because of the sheer size of the rally ) move higher has been that extremely tight carryover of which I just wrote. With the beans ( and the corn ) lagging the normal maturity levels somewhat, harvest has been running a bit behind the normal pace. ( Remember - I submit that the reason for the lag in maturity has been the near ideal finishing conditions for the plants, warmth and moisture, which has kept the plant pumping nutrients into the ears/pods instead of beginning the normal shutdown process. Translation - bigger yields!).
The slower pace of harvest means that some end users have been scrambling for supplies while they waited for the new crop to hit the pipeline. So we are faced with the anomaly of soaring bean prices over the last three weeks during a time frame in which we normally see prices working into a harvest low.
What has led this move higher has been the meal. For those who are new to grains, meal is made from crushing beans. The other by-product is soy oil.
There have been some reports coming out of the Eastern belt that processors are having trouble getting enough beans to crush. I do not know how reliable those reports are but let's just say that apparently the meal market believes it.
Look at this chart and you will see what I mean. Meal has rallied $65/ton since October 1! it is this strength which has driven the beans themselves higher. This is the normal for bean rallies - they are always led by meal.
However, this market may very well have run out of upside steam this week. It is still too premature to call an end to this rally but there are some signs that need to be heeded.
Look at where the rally has run. It stalled out just above the 50% Fibonacci retracement level which is near $353 before it closed BELOW that level today ( Friday). The market did however manage t to close over the 100 day moving average which is a big deal technically; however, the key for that next week will be whether or not it can sustain any upside follow through and remain ABOVE that 100 DMA. If not, there is a good chance that the meal has topped and with it, the beans.
By the way, every now and then we get the occasional "self proclaimed trading genius" who scoffs at those of us who employ Fibonacci numbers in our trading strategy. What I can say to them is that in all the years I have been trading, I find myself constantly amazed at how close these various levels are to reversal points that markets make. They are not fool-proof ( no trading method is ) but they are reliable enough that any professional trader ignores them at his or her own peril.
So has the bean market rally finally halted? We shall certainly see next week.
One other thing - the Cattle on Feed report confirms the tight supply of cattle that livestock traders are well acquainted with by now but it did show a bit larger number placed than at the same time last year. Still, the comp was already tight. That being said, while the cattle chart is one of the few charts in the entire commodity complex that has been very strong, the December is having trouble cracking the ceiling at $170. For long time cattle traders, some of us remember during the bust years seeing cattle prices at a THIRD of that. I am talking about a "5" handle in front of the cash cattle prices! That is to provide some perspective just how high these nose-bleed prices are in the cattle industry.
I am still keeping a close eye on this market for signs of a permanent top. I still think that cattle are living on borrowed time, giving the overall trend towards lower prices in the commodity sector, not to mention the increased competition from cheaper pork and chicken. The one thing that has kept beef elevated in my opinion, longer than I originally expected, has been the sharp - and I do mean SHARP, fall in gasoline prices. Cheaper gas leaves mom more money to buy high-priced beef but even cash-flushed moms have their limit.
So far, while this market has bent, it has yet to break. Big specs keep coming in and defending their long positions and have had the wind at their back as packers keep paying up for cattle to fill their slaughter schedules.
Lastly, hedge funds have been huge buyers in the corn of late and that is partly responsible for the $0.45 rally in corn since October 1. Based on today's COT report, hedge funds have covered, or bought back, 60,000 short positions since the start of the month. Yes, you read that correctly. We have seen a MASSIVE Short covering rally in the corn. I am also watching that market to see if it is running out of steam to the upside as well.
With wheat putting in an Downside Reversal Pattern today, it could be that the corn is ready to move lower into a final harvest low. Still, with all that has transpired in the grains these last couple of weeks, I am certainly treading lightly!
Here is the wheat chart. An interesting thing about the price action. I have noted that on the way up, $5.20 was a tough nut to crack but if cracked, wheat could run to $5.40. Guess what, it ran through $5.20 and managed to close above that level yesterday for the first time, then promptly ran to $5.39 1/4 before COLLAPSING BACK DOWN through both levels today! WOW...
With all the goofy money flows this week and huge spread positions being piled on and taken off, I am a bit leery about prognosticating anything about the grains with much certainty right now but this is usually one of the more reliable technical signals. Then again, Wednesday's sell signal in the beans and in the meal immediately was negated on Thursday so there ya go! The motto is: "NOTHING IS EVER SURE IN COMMODITIES - NOTHING!". Just about the time you think you've got things all figured out, a steamroller flattens you and leaves you wondering what the hell just happened to you!
Enjoy the weekend - the drill starts over again Sunday evening!