Closed equity & currency longs, short metals & oil

SPX futures are looking wobbly, and gold and silver are looking downright weak. I took profits on my equity, euro, CHF and GBP longs and JPY short and have built a modest short position in crude, copper, silver, gold, palladium and GDX (gold stock etf).

Here’s ES as of the open (1-hour scale). A set-back today may be likely, but I would still probably expect stocks to recover and inch higher a while longer. RSI is weak on a 5-min scale but still strong on the hourly.

Don’t count on a big rally in commodities.

Yes, the “inflation/risk trade” is moderately oversold, but when oil, copper and the like start to fall, they can just slide straight down for months. I believe that the commodity rally of the past 15 months was just a dead cat bounce correcting the crash after the massive 2007-2008 bubble.

Now that we’ve had that correction (and then some when it comes to the metals), there is little reason for prices to remain elevated. The supply/demand situation today certainly doesn’t justify $3.00 copper or $1.00 nickel or zinc, and demand will be even weaker in a year when the construction bubbles in China, Australia and Canada are over.

Here’s a pattern I see in crude. Now that the uptrend (higher highs, higher lows) is busted (we made a lower low), all rallies may be short and weak:

TD Ameritrade

Copper’s uptrend is still technically intact but very weak(see RSI), and it could play out the same way:


Of course, if a large rally does develop, it will just be more fodder for the bears. I’ve entered a short on copper at $3.13 today, and am prepared to add to the position. I’ve also just picked up some July puts on crude futures (expiry June 17). I don’t like near-term options, but these got cheap today and will pay off 25:1 if oil is $55 three weeks from now.

If another broad-based rally in risk assets develops, I’m covered with longs on stock futures. However, I would not be surprised to see stocks (and the Euro) rally for a while here while commodities decline. When trends start to exhaust correlations can break apart.

Choppy & toppy

Here’s a 6-month shot of the S&P500 futures:

Source: Interactive Brokers

Looks like another good short set-up here, using a couple of points over today’s high as a stop and 1055 as a target (with much greater bearish potential of course). Like many bears, I’ve been expecting the 2009 rally to peter out since summertime, and I’ve been continually surprised by the stock-buying public’s recklessness, delusion and plain stupidity as evidenced by a PE ratio well over 100 in the face of 10%+ unemployment, shrinking credit, and accelerating foreclosures and bank failures.

That said, the market since summer has given us a series of fairly clear short-term sell signals and has obeyed them with a series of 4-6% declines. Unlike previous rallies that powered through resistance into solid new highs, the rally since the latest interim bottom (November 1-2) has stalled out well within the price range of the previous top (mid-October). Not only that, but the distribution (choppy) pattern within this three-week plateau has exhibited a much wider range than previous ones. Might this instability indicate a pending phase shift, such as when a top gets wobbly before toppling over?


I want to show some basic charting here with crude, which is supposedly falling because of the supply report today, an explanation that I consider hogwash. Rather, the chart offers some examples of a very simple sell signal: the broken trendline. Yesterday’s signal was classic: it broke a very clear uptrend at a couple of different degrees, attempted a re-test, then fell hard.


Here in the 2-day view you can see the smaller trend and how its break lead to the break of the larger one:


This reminds me of last week’s mini stock panic, which was supposedly because of Dubai World. Funny thing is, as EWI noted, stock futures made their high a few hours after Dubai made its announcement.