Monday, May 9, 2011

Commodities Collapse!

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By Mike Conlon | May 6, 2011

As we all know by now, the inputs that make up the global economy are all inter-twined and that’s what makes the forex market so interesting. Yesterday, commodities prices collapsed across the board, bringing down prices in oil, precious metals, and even agricultural products. Oil is now under $100, gold under $1500, and silver back to under $35.

This begs the question as to what is actually driving prices higher, and what caused this sudden decline. While I think declining commodity prices are a good thing as this can relieve headline inflation, the role of speculators, the US Fed and other Central banks, and supply and demand dynamics must all be examined.

But there was an interesting confluence events occurred yesterday which is likely the reasoning for such a sell-off. While in the US we had a dismal initial jobless claims numbers, the ECB rate policy statement did not confirm that further rate hikes would be coming and deferred to the flexibility the ECB has. The market took this as dovish and began selling Euros, which helped the Dollar rally the most in nearly 2 years.

So adding it all up, we have weakening global economic data, potential pauses in rate hikes abroad which cause Dollar strength, the end of QE2, and the Non-Farm Payrolls report later this morning which all could support a strong Dollar position. However, at this point we can’t rule out further Fed easing if the data continues to get worse here in the US.

So what we’ve been waiting for all week, the US Non-Farm Payrolls Report is expected a gain of 185K jobs.

In the forex market:

Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is mostly higher despite lower commodity prices to start the day as the yield differentials are just too hard to ignore.

Kiwi (NZD): The Kiwi is also higher for the same reasons as the Aussie.

Loonie (CAD): The Loonie is mostly higher as a better than expected employment report shows that there is economic improvement in Canada. Canada added 58.3K jobs vs. an expectation of 20K, and the unemployment rate ticked lower to 7.6% from 7.7%. (Click chart to enlarge)


Euro (EUR): The Euro is mostly lower after the market perception over the ECB statement yesterday is that there may be a pause in rate hikes. The Euro is improving this morning after the NFP figure was released. (Click chart to enlarge)


Pound (GBP): The Pound is mixed as “mum is the word” out of the BOE yesterday. By not issuing a policy statement yesterday, the Pound should continue to strengthen vs. Euro.

Dollar (USD): Wow again. NFP came in showing a gain of 244K jobs, which was much better than the expected 185K and quite a shock to the market. The one negative is that the unemployment rate moved higher to 9% from 8.8%, though it is uncertain what is driving that number.

Yen (JPY): The Yen is weaker across the board as it appears to be “risk-on” again in Japan after yesterday’s holiday.

It looks like some of the correlations that the markets rely on may be breaking down a bit as it appears as though the market is not sure what to make of the data.

On the one hand, good economic data here in the US means that Bernanke and the Fed could let QE2 expire without having to take further monetary action, which should strengthen the Dollar as it has been kept unusually low thanks to that policy.

But on the other hand, good economic data also means that the US economy is recovering, which could put the risk trade back on again, which would mean selling Dollars and buying commodities and higher yielding currencies.

Right now oil is still trading lower, the Euro has just gone positive vs. USD as it is weakening across the board. Stock markets are flying higher, so at this point it looks like the risk appetite is out-weighing the thought that the end of QE2 could bring Dollar strength.

I expect to see some volatility over the ensuing trading days as the market works this all out!

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