"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


Friday, September 26, 2014

Speculators Endorsing Lower Copper Prices

Based on the recent COT report through Tuesday of this week, every single category of speculator, is on the net short side of the copper market, whether it be hedge funds, other large reportables or the general public.

Swap Dealers are carrying the entirety of the net long interest in this market at the current time.

Copper prices have been grinding steadily lower due to concerns over slowing global economic growth, especially in China but got a bit of a respite today on the US GDP number, which although it was within expectations, showed some pretty good growth for Q2 2014.

Silver is showing a transition as Swap Dealers and Commercials reduce net short exposure with the former now holding a small net long position.

Large hedge funds are net short and with the metal probing lower near $17, can be expected to have upped that short position since Tuesday. Other large reportables and the general public both remain net long but both are also selling as they liquidate longs and add to new shorts.

The Goldman Sachs Commodity Index settled lower for the week but managed to recover from its worst levels at the close of trading Friday helped by strength in crude oil, the products and some of the softs as well as cattle which closed limit up.

One last thing for right now:

Look at this chart of the US Dollar. Is that impressive or what? This week makes ELEVEN CONSECUTIVE WEEKS of higher weekly closes. I will have to go back and survey the charts but surely this is one of the best performances that the greenback has shown in many years.

Looking at the chart one can see that the currency has clearly and decisively broken out above a congestion range trade that has been in plce for over 2 1/2 years now. All applicable Fibonacci retracement levels measured off the June 2010 high near 89 have been bested. Conventional Fibonacci analysis would portend a move all the way back to that peak. There does look to be some resistance coming in near the 86.50-87.00 zone prior to that however that would need to be overcome.

By all standards of TA, the Dollar is overbought and is due for some sort of setback; however, currency markets are one of the better trending markets once a solid trend is underway and thus are more prone to ignore overbought or oversold readings than other markets might be. This is because, generally speaking, the fundamental factors that go into establishing a currency trend are of much longer duration in forming and much less prone to undergoing rapid reversals.

For now, the Dollar is King once again!

Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report Extremely Negative

Living up to their reputation for catching market participants off guard and creating fireworks, the September 2014 Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report was released this afternoon and "boy howdy" was it a bearish doozy!

In every single category, it showed USDA's numbers far exceeding the average of analysts' estimates ahead of the reports.

Here is a copy of the report, courtesy of Dow Jones:

                                       USDA's               Average             Range
                                      estimates            of estimates       of estimates
All hogs and pigs on Sep 1           98              96.6              95.6- 97.5
Kept for breeding                       102             101.4            99.8- 104.7
Kept for marketing                       97             96.2             94.9- 97.0

Jun-Aug pig crop                         99             97.6              96.4- 99.0
Jun-Aug pigs per litter                  98            97.3              96.2- 98.9
Jun-Aug farrowings                      101          100.4             100.0- 100.7
Sep-Nov farrowing intentions        104          103.2             102.0- 104.3
Dec-Feb farrowing intentions         104         101.5              98.2- 103.6

Hogs weighing under 50 lbs               98          97.9           96.1- 100.4
Hogs weighing 50 to 119 lbs              98          96.4           94.9- 97.7
Hogs weighing 120-179 lbs                97          94.9           94.0- 96.2
Hogs weighing 180 and over               94          93.6          90.9- 96.6

What the report shows, when you dig into it even more deeply, is the number of Pigs Per Litter moving back above the "10" level for the first time since November of last year.

That is a testament to two things:

1.) increased bio-security protocols being followed by larger scale hog producers
2.) decreased incidence of the disease during the warm, dry months of summer

Once we work through the temporary tightness in hogs that has been supporting the nearby October contract, hog numbers are going to ramp up rather rapidly. Also, extremely heavy/record hog weights will continue to mitigate any impact from the PED virus which has plagued the industry.

In comments to the wire reporters this afternoon, I noted that if these heavy weights continue, and I see no reason why there are not going to do just that, especially with cheap new crop corn coming in which is much more nutritious than the older crop stored over from last year, we should see pork production exceed the previous year's numbers for the first time in quite a while.

Another thing - with more abundant pork just ahead, end users of US pork, based on what they can now see in this report, should not be in any particular rush to load up on high-priced pork. Couple that with a soaring US Dollar and I expect export buyers to put off purchases until prices move lower.

I should also note that corn prices have fallen another $0.40/bushel since this report was tabulated. Grain  (feed costs) have gotten even cheaper for producers) and that means more chances for increased profits. That will work to spur additional intentions.

While cattle have been shrugging off one negative factor after another, I think this is a bridge too far for even the cattle bulls to have to deal with. We are going to be seeing more pork and more chicken available in the Q4 and Q1 2015. Beef is pricing itself out of the demand side of the equation.

There are now TWO approved vaccines that are out there for PED virus. We are going to find out how effective these are at getting that disease under control, but if they prove to limit mortality even somewhat, the industry is going to see increased numbers as low grain prices will spur even more attempts at expansion.

Right now, based on what I can see in this report, odds favor limit down openings across the complex with perhaps the exception of the October on Monday morning. That month has been the beneficiary of a recent tightness in supply as evidenced by the 180pounds and over at 94% of last year's levels. However, the bulk of those hogs have been put down at this point.

The trade was anticipating a negative report based on the price structure of the Board but this report was so negative and exceeded the average of estimates by such a significant margin, that the initial reaction should be negative. We will have to see how things progress throughout the day however.