"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

As Ukraine Heats up so does Gold

Gold is being batted back and forth between two opposing forces at the moment. The negative force continues to be the slowing Chinese economy with traders fearing a slackening of demand from that key consumer. The positive is escalating tensions in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Separatists, or pro-Russian citizens, are continuing to clash with pro-Western citizens with the Ukranian military getting more involved, although there have been reports of defections over to the Russian side from some Ukranian military units.

This is supporting gold, as is the weakness in the US Dollar.

Much is being made in certain gold perma-bull websites about rising meat prices as evidence that inflation is here to stay. Such stories are meant to justify claims that gold should be moving significantly higher in anticipation of even further upward price pressures but such stories are inflammatory and not forward looking.

Wholesale meat prices have already peaked out. My view is that we have seen the highs for this season for both beef and pork prices. As we move further into the year, particularly towards the end of the 3rd quarter and on into the 4th, look for prices to fall significantly from current levels. What is currently being witnessed is the catch up in the retail price of red meat as it takes a while for the more recently killed, higher priced product to make its way into the food distribution channel. By the end of this year, and certainly by the beginning of next year, beef and pork prices will have come down considerably from current sticker-shock price levels.

The same goes for soybean prices ( barring any serious weather event this growing season ). New crop beans are priced a whopping $2.70 below old crop beans as the market is moving on historically tight ending supplies of beans. With record acreage going to beans this growing season, we should also see some relief from these high-priced beans as well, although it will take some time before the market feels comfortable enough to push bean prices lower.

Corn prices are pivoting around the $5.00 level. While they have come off the lows near the $4.00 level, they remain far below the historic peak near $7.75 - $8.00. Wheat is reacting to continued dryness in key growing regions of the Plains but some of its premium is also due to the Ukranian situation. Traders fear supply disruptions from this key wheat-growing region and have bid prices higher in anticipation of possible shipment disruptions associated with the unrest over there.

The GSCI or Goldman Sachs Commodity Index is trading up near the top of its range as several commodity sectors have been moving higher. If it could clear 680, we might have something in the overall sector indicating some strong upward pressure and a breakout but so far the current board structure in many commodity futures markets is not suggesting SUSTAINED higher prices.

If China continues to slacken further, traders are not going to feel comfortable committing large sums of money into the sector in general.

The Dollar is basically going nowhere as it remains trendless. When it weakens, commodities, especially gold, tend to get a bid. When it strengthens, the opposite is generally true.

Nothing has changed in that regard.

We are back to watching geopolitical events and trading around those for the time being.

By the way, China's GDP number was a tad bit better than the market was looking for but even one of their officials said that the double digit growth that had marked it for some time was over. Gold popped a bit higher when the number came out last evening expressing a sigh of relief.