Where Did All The Contango Go?

For the first few months of the year West Texas Crude Oil was in an extreme contango situation.  In fact it got as high as 20% just four months out.  Looking at the 4-month contango/backwardization  in West Texas Crude Oil we can see that in just the past seven weeks it has dropped from over 15% to just 3.2%.

West Texas Crude 4-Month Contango/Backwardization


Most of the narrowing has happened in the near month futures, since over the past seven weeks the near month has rallied  27% and the 4th month only 14%.

Obviously the big question should be is demand really picking up? If so Oil should rise fairly quickly as we continue to see declining production as well as a decline in the ability to produce via the drop in rig counts over the last eight months.

Or is this a short term rise based on the notion that the economy is improving and this is just an extension of the risk trade?  If so then oil is to be shorted as are many other commodities as the reflation trade is put on hold.

We try not to fight the market and right now it is obviously in bull mode as it has moved up 75% from its lows.  That being said we tend to listen to the signals from economic indicators like capacity utilization, unemployment, and Fed minutes that show anything but an economic recovery.

West Texas Crude Oil


For now the trend is up and we are modestly bullish (that means we are flat) bulls.   However over the next few months we would not be surprised at all to be changing our view to the bear side and going short as the lack of demand likely overtakes these sorry excuses for green shoots and the economy, and therefore demand, roll over.

Happy Trading,

Site Updates- Yesterday we installed Disqus to better  interact with our blog readers.  We welcome your views on energy, the economy, and any other financial topic.

UNG Natural Gas ETF

In our newsletter this week we went long some UNG-Natural Gas and it is working out well. The long term supply and demand characteristics were very favorable around the recent lows and we had a good technical picture as well. As you can see in the chart below UNG has exploded to the upside on extremely high volume. To put where natural gas is in perspective we also included a longer term chart showing the past 14 months.

UNG-Natural Gas ETF


UNG-Natural Gas Long Term Chart


Happy Trading,

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Potential Inflation Trades

Tuesday the Fed came out and said that they will not be expanding their quantitative easing operations.  They claim that things are looking good enough that they do not need to do more.  Of course we also had a really bad GDP number and long term rates have been climbing ever since the original announcement.  If the Fed is right and things are improving then we can expect to see some fairly strong inflation coming up in the next few months out to about two years.  Essentially at some point relatively soon we are going to be in a very inflationary environment.  Here are two sectors that we think will benefit from inflation, and will likely do well even if inflation is relatively flat.

MOO-Agribusiness ETF


OIH-Oil Service HOLDR


Happy Trading,

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Is Global Trade Heating Up? Or Is It Just Leveling Out?

One of the best indicators to see how the global economy is doing is to just look at the CRB index. While we don’t expect it to be hitting new highs anytime soon, it would be nice to see it moving up at least a little. Instead as you can see in the chart below it has only managed to find some type of bottom. If it’s “The Bottom” or just “A Bottom” is besides the point for now. It is enough to see that it is not trending up.

CRB Index


Another good indicator to look at to gauge the strength of the global economy is that of the Baltic Dry Index. Over the last couple of weeks we have seen many blogs and other market commentators mention that the index has been climbing. Of course what they fail to mention is that if you look at the longer term chart of the index, it is still down significantly and it makes the recent rally look insignificant.

Baltic Dry Index-Short Term


Baltic Dry Index-Long Term


Needless to say we think that many commentators are getting ahead of themselves in saying that the economy has bottomed. In fact the vast majority of the economic indicators that we follow are still pointing straight down, without any “green shoots” characteristics. Until we can get some historically reliable indicators pointing to a bottom and/or a rebound we will be cautious as capital preservation is our first priority.

Happy Trading,

P.S. If you are getting value out of our posts, you can do us a favor by linking to us with your site or blog and mentioning The Macro Trader to any of your friends that trade.

Weekly US Crude Inventory

Following up yesterdays post regarding what we see happening in the crude oil market we were happy to see the inventory numbers come out this morning and once again confirm what we have been seeing, namely that until Contango narrow significantly or goes away entirely there will be a large incentive for large energy traders to buy oil in the cash market and sell a forward contract to lock in a gain.

With Contango at 10% from the current month out to August there is a huge incentive for large speculators like global macro and energy funds as well as oil companies that have extra storage capacity to put this trade on and just sit on the oil until it has to be delivered.

Here is a chart of oil inventory data and as you can see we are at highs not seen since 1990.

Weekly US Crude Inventory


Happy Trading,

P.S. If you are getting value out of our posts, you can do us a favor by linking to us with your site or blog and mentioning The Macro Trader to any of your friends that trade.