Weekly Market Recap – July 13th, 2018

In the News

Last week NATO leaders met in Brussels, focusing on member nations’ commitments to increased military spending. Tensions were high going into the summit, as President Trump had questioned the usefulness of the alliance, but that sentiment shifted following the summit, with President Trump maintaining belief in NATO. Central to discussions was the failure of some member nations to reach the 2% GDP target for collective military spending contributions, with Trump pushing not only for each ally nation to meet the financing target, but to do so at a rapid pace.

Following the NATO summit, President Trump travelled to England to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May. On Friday the two discussed U.K.-U.S. relations in a post Brexit world, including a bilateral trade agreement between the two nations. Trump also clarified alleged criticisms he had made of May’s handling of Brexit, and showed support for anti-immigration stances that were strong fuel for Britain leaving the EU.

In the Markets

Grains suffered heavy losses this week in the wake of the WASDE report as the markets await further developments between the U.S. and China. Soybeans plummeted 6.74%, while corn fell 4.89%, and wheat dropped 3.54%.

Precious metals also posted losses, with gold falling 1.16%, silver down 1.58%, and platinum dipping to 2.16%. Commodities faced losses across the board, with oil also correcting lower in both WTI and Crude futures, which dropped 3.78% and 2.52% respectively.

While commodities showed weakness, the major indexes showed gains as trade fears took a back seat in the minds of equities investors. The S&P 500 rose 1.5%, the NASDAQ climbed 1.8%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted the strongest performance, climbing over 500 points, up 2.3% and breaking the 25,000 mark.

Decorated WCTC Champion Climbs to Second

Three time WCTC champion Kurt Sakaeda has hovered around the top 5 all year, including a current 21 day streak on the leaderboard, but last week he soared to a new year high, breaking into second place. Sakaeda rallied over 20% to finish with a net return of 120% on the year, only 28% behind the leader Jan Smolen, the closest spread since Smolen took over first place on May 21st. Smolen still held onto first place, with a net return of 148%, and Paul Skarp finished in third with a net return of 103.8%.

Spread Narrows with Eisenberg’s Rally

Carlos Eisenberg posted a stunning week, finishing with a net return of 92.5%, gaining 35% from the prior week. This puts the spread between fourth and first place barely above 50%, marking for an incredibly tight race moving forward.

Takumaru Sakakibara rounded out the top 5 again, finishing with a net return of 43.6%.

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Weekly Market Recap – July 6th, 2018

In the News

On July 6th, the Trump administration’s first round of tariffs against China went into effect. These tariffs, effecting around $50 billion worth of Chinese exports, were issued to combat China’s allegedly unfair trade practices, including forced transfer of American technology and intellectual property. The tariffs cover 1,102 different products, targeting China’s “Made in China 2025” industrial policy. China’s retaliatory tariffs are still on the horizon, which could put pressure on the U.S. to increase their trade actions, as tensions increase between the U.S. and China.

Good news for U.S. markets arrived from the BLS June 2018 job report. 213,000 jobs were added in June, exceeding the 195,000 expected. Despite a positive month, unemployment rose to 4.0%, signifying more workers entering the job market, which bodes well for employee sentiment, as companies continue to fill positions. Wage growth remained slow, quelling concerns regarding increased interest rate hikes as inflation remains low. May and April both had job growth numbers revised up, showing a net gain of 37,000 from what was previously reported.

In the Markets

Volatility ticked up last week as trade tensions and employment reports brought varying news. The dollar weakened, with the dollar index falling 0.61% on September futures. Gold dropped to a new low before rallying to end the week, with net change up 0.1%. Silver fell 0.8% on the week, and platinum was down 1.06%.

WTI Crude oil rallied to start the week, with August futures climbing above $75/bbl, before falling to close the week, posting a loss of 0.47%. Brent Crude dropped 2.62% on the week, as the market awaits Saudi production decisions, with the slowdown of Iranian Oil usage approaching.

Soybeans rallied this week after several weeks of losses, rising 1.65% on the week.

Top 3 Hold on; Rest of Field Shuffles for Position

The top three ended the week the same way they began; Jan Smolen held first place, gaining 3.5% on the week finishing with a net return of 164.8%. Paul Skarp took the July 4th holiday week off, retaining second place with his net return of 103.84% from last week. Kurt Sakaeda maintained third place, climbing to 88% on Thursday, before finishing the week with a net gain of almost 3% from last week, closing at 75.45%.

The last two spots on the top 5 shuffled between Takumaru Sakakibara, Petra Illona Zecek, and Carlos Eisenberg. Carlos came out on top in those three, finishing in 4th place with a net return of 57.82%. Takumaru was bumped out of the top 5 for July 3rd-5th, but regained 5th place to end the week, closing with a net return of 43.71%.

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Weekly Market Recap – June 29th, 2018

In the News

The Trump Administration announced plans to levy powerful sanctions against companies who do not entirely cut Iranian Crude Oil imports by November. This considerably shortened the previous timetable, which required companies to cut 20% of their imports every 180 days. Now these companies must cut 100% of their Iranian imports in 180 days, with the cut off point set at November 4th.

Trade tensions between China and the U.S. spiked to start the week, as reports from the White House seemed to hint at barring Chinese companies from investing in U.S. tech firms. The task has been currently delegated to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, temporarily quelling tensions as the two superpowers continue to seek leverage against one another.

In the Markets

Crude Oil rallied this week, gaining back the ground it lost over the last few weeks, soaring to a high since November 2014. WTI Crude August Futures climbed by 8.12% to 74.15/bbl, while Brent climbed 5.06%. As companies begin to cut their reliance on Iranian Oil, the markets will continue to monitor the effects on global supplies.

Precious metals fell again this week, as gold dropped 1.27% to a new low for 2018 of $1246.90. Silver also fell 1.98%, while platinum fell 2.49%.
Soybeans dropped 4.14% as the U.S. continues its stand-off against global trade partners.

The U.S. Dollar rebounded slightly, rising 0.18%, but the major U.S. indices all fell on the week. The Dow Jones dropped 1.5%, the S&P 500 fell 1.4%, and the NASDAQ was down 2.4%.

Smolen Rallies, Extending Lead

Kurt Sakaeda, three time WCTC Champion, maintained a third place in a tumultuous week in the markets. Jan Smolen held onto first, falling to 161.32%, and Paul Skarp remained in second place at 103.84%. Sakaeda closed the gap between himself and first to under 100%, finishing the week at 72.84%. Petra Ilona Zacek stepped back into the top 5, finishing in fourth with a net return of 49.46%. Takumaru Sakakibara rounded out the top 5 again at 43.71%.

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Weekly Market Recap – June 22nd, 2018

In the News

This week, leaders from OPEC member nations met in Vienna, Austria to discuss increasing oil production. On May 22nd, when oil prices were on a strong bullish rally, with WTI futures reaching $72.9/bbl and Brent futures eclipsing $80/bbl, Saudi Arabia and Russia leaned towards raising production by one million barrels per day. The markets corrected, with both WTI and Brent futures falling: however, the meeting resulted in a production increase of only 600,000. As demand grows with further economic development, and production wanes in Venezuela and Libya, time will tell if OPEC’s decision will be enough to quell rising fuel costs.

The rhetoric continued to escalate this week surrounding the American and Chinese trade discussions, as China officially retaliated this week, matching the Trump administration’s $50 billion tariff. In response, President Trump has threatened another $200 billion in tariffs against China, and currently has a team going through the $500 billion of Chinese imports the U.S. received in 2017. Meanwhile, China still holds about $1.2 trillion in U.S. bonds.

As the tariff skirmishes continue, traders and investors should eye the impact rising import prices will have on inflation, as the Federal Reserve has already raised their planned interest rate hikes from a total of 3 to 4.

In the Markets

Precious metals fell this week, with platinum down 1.63%, gold down 0.61%, and silver falling 0.13%. Copper and iron also fell, down 3.74% and 2.06% respectively.

With OPEC’s production increase coming in 40% less than the markets predicted, WTI and Brent futures both rallied. WTI climbed 6.84% to $68.58/bbl, and Brent crude futures rose 3.12% to $75.38/bbl.
Grains took another hit this week, though not as substantial as last week’s steep drop off. Soybeans fell 1.21%, corn fell 1.11%, and wheat fell 1.63%.

The dollar weakened slightly, with the index falling to 94.18. The S&P dropped 0.9% and the NASDAQ fell 0.7%, however it was the Dow Jones Industrial Average, with heavy risk exposure to Chinese markets, that felt the biggest hit from trade war tensions, falling by 2.0%, wiping out its YTD gains.

Smolen Rallies, Extending Lead

Jan Smolen extended his lead over Paul Skarp to its largest margin of the year, on the back of a 50% rally on the week. Jan finished with a net return of 223.71%, leading Skarp by over 120%. Paul held onto second place, closing the week at 100.84%. Third place was a toss-up between Wayne Wan and Kurt Sakaeda, with Kurt taking over third on Tuesday through Thursday, but Wayne rallied on Friday, retaking the spot and finishing with a net return of 74.35%. Sakaeda finished in fourth with a net return of 58.06%, and the top 5 was rounded out with Takumaru Sakakibara ending the week at 46.36%.

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Weekly Market Recap – June 15th, 2018

In the News

The week ended with a substantial development in the U.S. China trade conflict, as the long rumored tariff skirmish materialized into reality with the Trump administration announcing a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. China was quick to respond, stating that they will enforce equivalent tariffs against the U.S., followed by President Trump claiming that the U.S. would levy additional tariffs on top of those going into effect July 6th in response to any retaliatory measures taken by China.

As tensions between China and the U.S. escalated, the Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un seemed to calm relations between Washington and Pyongyang. While this was only the first of the many meetings that will be required to reach any sort of accord, denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Washington’s top priority in the region, was on the table.

The Fed made its second rate increase of 2018, increasing interest rates by 25 bases points, and announced intentions to make 2 more rate increases this year.

Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank announced that it would continue its quantitative easing (QE) program through December. QE was originally set to end in September, but the ECB will continue the purchasing of government and private debt, though at a decreased rate in the final quarter, moving from 30 billion euros of debt a month to 15 billion euros.

In the Markets

Commodities showed broad pullbacks this week as substantial economic and geopolitical developments rocked North America, Europe, and Asia. Precious metals all fell, with gold down 1.86%, silver down 1.56%, and platinum down 1.98%.

WTI Crude fell 1.03%, while Brent Crude dove 4.28% on the week. Oil products didn’t fare any better, with Gasoline down 4.35% and Heating Oil falling 3.57%. Energy didn’t face a total loss this week, as Natural Gas climbed 4.57%.

Grains posted losses across the board, with soybeans, a top U.S. export to China, down 6.58%, Corn down 4.37%, and CBOT Wheat down 3.96%.

With the ECB’s QE decision leading the euro down, the dollar index strengthened this week, up 1.44%.

The S&P 500 finished dead even on the week, while the NASDAQ rose 1.3%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9%.

Leader Turned Advisor

Jan Smolen held onto his lead, finishing the week with a net return of 173%. Jan also was announced as the latest member of the World Cup Advisor Team. Second place was a point of contention between Paul Skarp and Wayne Wan this week, but Skarp managed to reclaim second place with a net return of 112.4%, while Wan remained in third with a net return of 64.82%. Kurt Sakaeda returned to the top 5, finishing just a few points behind Wayne Wan in 4th place with a net return of 62.91%. Takumaru Sakakibara rounded out the top 5 with a net return of 50.42%.

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Weekly Market Recap – June 8th, 2018

In the News

Last week ended with the Charlevoix G7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, as Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and the U.S. joined Canada for the 2 day conference. The summit ended with a 28 point joint communique covering a wide range of issues including trade, North Korea’s denuclearization, and Russia’s foreign policy. All seven members did not remain on the communique for long, however, as President Trump tweeted while in route to Singapore that he would instruct U.S. reps to not endorse the agreement. The response came after Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. The sentiment from the Trump administration was that the Canadian tariff announcement was in bad faith with respect to the discussions President Trump had with Trudeau over the weekend.

According to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the U.S.’s sanctions against China’s ZTE, including a $1 billion penalty against the telecom company, will end in a new deal that will bring a change in ZTE’s board of directors and executives. The deal could have positive ripple effects in the ongoing trade negotiations with China.

While this last week was relatively quiet with market-moving news, this coming week has a substantial docket, including the anticipated summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, as well as the probably 25 basis points interest rate hike to be announced by the Fed.

In the Markets

Silver and gold both posted strong gains in the wake of a weakening dollar, with silver up 1.82% and gold up 0.26%. June futures of the dollar index fell 0.67%, ending the greenback’s bullish streak.

With strike worries surrounding the Escondida mine in Chile, copper soared last week up 6.5%. Oil prices continued to fall, with WTI crude down 0.11%, and Brent crude down 0.55%. Grains had a very bearish weak. Wheat fell 0.62%, corn was down 3.51%, and Soybeans had the worst performance down 5.09% on the week.

All three major indices posted gains, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 2.8%, the S&P 500 rose 1.6%, and the NASDAQ was up 1.2%.

Top Three All Post Gains

The top three traders, Jan Smolen, Paul Skarp, and Wayne Wan, who have held their positions since May 30th, all showed increases in their net return. Wayne briefly took second place on Tuesday, before finishing in third at 97.75%, up 33.51% on the week. Paul Skarp held on to second place to close the week, up 32.5% on the week to close with a net return of 113.68% on the year. Despite their furious gains, Jan Smolen held onto his lead, gaining 31.78% on the week, and reaching his new high for the year at 198.24%.
Takumaru Sakakibara and Kurt Sakaeda battled back and forth to start the week, but it was a newcomer Craig Fullen who snagged 4th place, finishing the week at 69.3%, with Sakakibara behind him rounding out the top 5 with a net return of 50.74%.

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Weekly Market Recap – June 1st, 2018

In the News

The highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years touched down in Washington, D.C. last week. Kim Yong Chol, regarded as Kim Jong-un’s right-hand man, met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday before delivering a letter from Kim Jong Un to President Trump in a much anticipated meeting on Friday. Following the meeting, it appears the June 12th summit in Singapore is back on, although in an impromptu press conference after Friday’s letter exchange, President Trump acknowledged that the Singapore summit would be one of several meetings needed to reach common ground with North Korea.

Italy remained a top story last week, as fears surrounding government stability led to a sell-off in the nation’s debt securities. A potential Italian exit from the European Union remains a central factor in the European economy, as well as the global economy.

In a move that shook markets this week, the Trump administration announced that aluminum and steel tariffs would be levied against the Europen Union, Mexico, and Canada. These were the same tariffs announced several months back, where exemptions had been given to European allies and NAFTA members: however, following a lack of desired progress in trade talks, President Trump chose to remove those exemptions. This call was met with strong push back, especially regarding the legal basis for the tariffs; the legal grounds used by the Trump administration was centered on national security concerns, causing U.S. allies to balk at the idea that such security concerns would be pointed at them. Many affected nations, including Canada, have threatened counter tariffs against the U.S. leading to the G7 summit.

U.S. markets received a boon as the May employment report showed unemployment falling to 3.8%, with a slight increase in wage growth.

In the Markets

WTI Crude Oil continued its fall last week, dropping over 3% to $65.81/bbl on July Futures. Brent Crude climbed slightly, however, causing the WTI Brent spread to eclipse $10/bbl. Geopolitical concerns in the Middle East and Venezuela, as well as OPEC’s decisions on increasing production, will have direct effects on the future trajectory of crude.

The U.S. dollar continued its bullish rise last week, with Dollar Index futures spiking to just under 95 on Wednesday. It fell to end the week, however, closing at 94.169.

In a highly volatile week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the week down 0.5%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.5%, and the NASDAQ climbed 1.6%.

World Cup Trading Championship update

Jan Smolen, who took the lead for the first time last week, saw his lead grow to almost 95% on Thursday, before finishing the week at 85%, which stand as the two greatest leads Smolen has held since taking over first place on May 21st. He finished the week at a net return of 166.46%.

Paul Skarp held onto second place, finishing the week with a net return of 81.18%. Wayne Wan, who had a bit back and forth fight with Jonathan Brum da Silva as they competed for the third place, finished on top with a net return of 64.24% as he attempts to close in on the top two traders. Brum da Silva finished at 51.72%.

The fifth place position saw the return of 3 time World Cup Trading Champion Kurt Sakaeda, who had been on hiatus from the top 5 since March 13th. Sakaeda took over Takumaru Sakakibara on Thursday, and finished the week at a net return of 44.11%.

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Weekly Market Recap – May 25th, 2018

In the News

President Trump called off the June 12th summit with North Korea on Thursday. Following this announcement, South Korean president Moon Jae-in met with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday, and it appears that for the time being, the meetings between U.S. and North Korea are back on the table as Washington continues preparations for the meeting in Singapore.

Meanwhile, European markets could take a hit as Italy, one of the EU’s largest economies, faces internal political turmoil. Populist parties The Five Star Movement and The League won March parliamentary elections on the way to forming a coalition, only to be vetoed by President Mattarella in favor of an interim government. As the situation unfolds, the ramifications could not only impact Italian markets and the euro, but may have impacts across the Atlantic.

Global oil supplies may receive a boon as OPEC and Russia held meetings to discuss increasing production. This comes as Venezuela’s production crisis continues. Venezuela’s state run oil company PDVSA owns Houston-based Citgo, and in 2016 placed a large share of Citgo up as collateral for a loan from Russia’s petroleum giant Rosneft, putting the health of the Latin American oil market at the center of the global economic landscape.

In the Markets

Crude oil fell sharply on Friday in response to OPEC and Russia’s discussions on production hikes. WTI July futures fell below the $70/bbl mark, dropping 5% to $67.88. Brent futures dropped 3.56% to $76.48, and the crack spread higher as oil products continued to outperform crude.

The dollar continued its bullish streak as the index climbed to a high of 94.19 last week. Precious metals also placed gains last week, with gold up 0.96%, silver up 0.55%, and platinum up 1.67%.

Agricultural commodities strengthened as Soybeans, Corn, CBOT Wheat, sugar, and coffee all posted gains on the week. The major indices all saw minor gains over the week, with the S&P up 0.31%, the NASDAQ up 1.08%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.15%.

Taking over the Lead

After 63 straight trading days at the top of the WCTC leaderboard, Paul Skarp was finally overtaken by Jan Smolen, who had been sitting in second place since mid-April. Smolen finished the week up 46%, closing Friday in first place at 148.17%. Skarp held onto second, finishing with a net return of 91.93%.

Wayne Wan held onto third for the 13th day in a row, finishing the week at 74.89%. Carlos Eisenberg managed a climb into the top 5 on Monday, but Jonathan Brum da Silva regained 4th place with a net return of 70.01%, putting pressure on Wan as he closed within 5% of 3rdplace.

Takumaru Sakakibara held onto 5th place, finishing the week at 40.87%.

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Weekly Market Recap – May 18th, 2018

In the News

This week brought tension regarding the June 12 meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, as North Korean officials pushed back against any plans that involve unilateral abandonment of their nuclear weapons capabilities. As the historic summit in Singapore inches closer, Pyongyang expressed critiques of the U.S. model used in Libya in 2003, where dictator Muammar Qaddafi made a deal to remove their nuclear weapons, only to be captured and killed by U.S. backed rebels in 2011. Concerned that he could share this fate, Kim may enter Singapore in June with a defensive stance towards the Trump administration’s primary target of denuclearization.

The U.S. and China made steps in their negotiations this week, as the White House announced China’s intentions to make an additional $200 billion in purchases from the U.S, which the Trump administration hopes would cut into the trade deficit with China, which reached $375.2 billion last year. A wrench was thrown into the system, however, when the Chinese media denied this claim on Friday, calling the alleged trade deficit decrease a misunderstanding.

In the Markets

Treasury yields rose as the 10-yr Treasury note hit 3.11%, its highest level since 2011. As this sent June Treasury bond futures on the decline, the USD rallied, with the index up 1.23% higher on the week. Gold suffered as the USD strengthened, falling by 2.12% on the week and reaching a new low for 2018 as June futures fell below $1300.

Crude Oil remained bullish, with WTI June Futures climbing by 0.82%, while Brent Crude surpassed $80/bbl before closing the week up 2.97% at $79.30/bbl. Gasoline rose 2.32%, and heating oil was up by 2.03% as crack spreads increased with strong performances from oil products.

All three major stock indices saw losses this week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 falling 0.5%, while the NASDAQ dropped 0.7%.

The Challenger Remains

Wayne Wan announced himself in this tournament by vaulting into the top 3 this month. Wan let his competitors know he was here to stay, retaining third place, with a net gain of 1.38% on the week to close Friday at 85.18%.

Jan Smolen dropped 6.6% on the week, but held onto second place. His deficit to front runner Paul Skarp ended the week at only 17.1%, as both he and Wan maintain their focus on the pole position. Skarp has seen these close spreads before, but has managed to stay ahead of his competition, extending his streak to 63 days in a row atop the leaderboard.

A Familiar Name Returns

After a two week hiatus, with only one posted top 5 in the month of May, Jonathan Brum Da Silva returned to the top 5. Silva held a position on the leaderboard for 19 straight trading days in March and April, and looks to return to that form as he closed the week in 4th place with a net return of 49.62%.

Rounding out the top 5 was Takumaru Sakakibara, who maintained his position with a net return of 40.01%.

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Weekly Market Recap – May 14th, 2018

In the News

Having repeatedly stated his dissatisfaction with Obama era policies, President Trump officially pulled the United States from the Iran nuclear nonproliferation agreement. With the deal off the table, economic sanctions against Iran are potentially back on. Pending renegotiation, Iran exports could be heavily impacted by U.S. sanctions, especially their crude production. In the wake of this, the OPEC agreement on production cuts may be brought to the forefront as the world deals with the potential impact on global oil markets.

As meetings between Kim Jong-Un and President Trump inch closer, three U.S. citizens were released from North Korean prisons. As tensions in the Middle East grow, investors will be closely monitoring the potential cooling on the Korean Peninsula.

The April Consumer Price Index report showed a slower than expected inflation growth, quelling concerns of the Fed developing a more hawkish stance towards interest rates.

In the Markets

With markets facing supply pressure, crude oil continued to rally last week, posting a three year high as WTI June futures eclipsed $70 a barrel. Brent Crude also climbed, up 2.95% on the July futures, rising to $77.01 a barrel. Rising oil prices have a myriad of potential ramifications on other commodities, putting developments in the Middle East, home to more than 50% of the world’s oil reserves, at the center of the futures market.

Precious metals posted gains this week, despite the dollar also displaying strong performance, with the USD index reaching a new high of 93.26 on June futures contracts. Gold was up 0.35%, silver up 1.10%, and platinum up 1.57%.

In the stock market, the big three all rallied this week, continuing one of the longest bull markets in U.S. history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.3%, the S&P 500 climbed 2.4%, and the NASDAQ rallied by 2.7%.

The Top Two Remain

Paul Skarp maintained his lead through May 11th, closing the week at a net return of 186.58%, up just over 8% on the week. His lead over Jan Smolen expanded from its year low last week, reaching a spread of 78.47%. Smolen stretched his second place streak to 22 trading days, closing the week at 108.11%, well within striking distance of Skarp’s lead. As markets face growing international pressure, the front runners in the WCTC look to hold up to the increasing pressure from the rest of the field.

A Meteoric Rise

Not only does the leaderboard have a new challenger among its ranks, but that challenger ascended to third place in just three days. Wayne Wan from Turkey posted a 47.5% net return on May 9th. He climbed another 30% by Thursday, only to rise once again by market close on Friday, finishing the week at a year-to-date return of 83.05%.

Artur Teregluv maintained his strong rally over the last 3 weeks, finishing his 12th trading day in a row on the leaderboard with a net return of 66.43%. Fifth place was a toss-up once again this week, as Fabian Fischer and Jonathan Brum da Silva fought to start the week, but it was Takumaru Sakakibara who took the reins, climbing back into the leaderboard with a return of 42.69%.

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Weekly Market Recap – May 8th, 2018

Market News

The 4% mark was finally broken; the April U.S. employment report showed an addition of 164,000 new jobs, bringing unemployment to an 18 year low of 3.9%. Amidst an increasingly tight labor market, wage growth remained slow, up 4 cents in April and 2.6% since this time last year. As investors and Fed officials continue to eye inflation, stocks rallied on Friday after posting losses through Thursday. Despite Friday’s gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both feel 0.2% on the week, while the NASDAQ climbed 1.3%.

As President Trump’s decision regarding the Iran nuclear deal loomed, crude oil prices continued to climb last week approaching the $70/bbl level. Iran is one of the world’s top 5 largest oil producers, meaning that policy decisions could have broad impacts on the oil market. The dollar continued its upward momentum for the 3rd straight week, while gold June futures posted 0.66% loss on the week. Lumber again posted a new record high this year, climbing 3.33% through May 4th.

The Gap Narrows

Paul Skarp held on to first place on every trade day this week, extending his streak to 53 days straight atop the leaderboard: however, on Thursday, May 3rd that lead shrunk to its smallest margin all year. Second place trader Jan Smolen, who has maintained that position since April 12th, closed Thursday at a 173.2% net return, just 0.3% behind Skarp’s 173.5%. Skarp made gains before the week ended, extending his lead to 25.8%. While no longer razor thin, the gap has closed significantly as the traders continue to battle.

A Constant Shuffle for Position

Third place was retained by 2016 WCTC Futures Champion Artur Teregulov, who burst into the top 5 on April 26th, and has since climbed to a net return of 67.21% by market close on Friday. He is no stranger to the WCTC, and the veteran will be eyeing the two newer competitors as he chases his second title in 3 years.

Allen Swiontek held on to 4th place, remaining in striking distance of Skarp and Smolen. Fifth place, however, has been a point of contention over the last 2 weeks. From April 23rd through May 3rd, Jonathan Brum da Silva and Graeme Adams continued to wrestle back and forth, with Adams securing the spot to close 6 trading days, while Silva took over for 5.

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A Newcomer Challenges the Leaderboard

While Silva and Adams played musical chairs, shuffling back and forth, it was a new name that closed the week on the top 5. Finishing May 4th with a net return of 28.43%, Fabian Fischer of Luxemburg jumped into the ring, looking to continue his climb.

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Trading futures and forex involves significant risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. World Cup Championship (WCC ) accounts do not necessarily represent all the trading accounts controlled by a given competitor. WCC competitors may control accounts that produce results substantially different than the results achieved in their WCC accounts. WCC entrants may trade more than one account in the competition.

Weekly Market Recap – May 1st, 2018

In the Markets

To begin 2018, the bullish run of 2017 remained as stocks continued to rise in historic fashion while volatility remained low.  Fast forward to February, and the landscape changed dramatically. Volatility returned to the market with a vengeance, and while it has fallen since the spike on February 6th, it has remained well above the stable trend set in 2017. This comes as no surprise, as traders have had a copious amount of newsworthy events to react to.

In the News

One of the biggest stories of 2018 has been the tariffs. With 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum through an executive order by President Trump, the initial tariffs went into effect in March. These quickly faded into the background, however, as further tariffs were threatened against China.  China responded with similar posturing, as rumors of a trade war dominated the airways pending negotiations.

Following this trend, tensions grew over the last three weeks in the Middle East.  An allied airstrike by the US, UK, and France was carried out against suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria on April 7th in response to alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. With Russia positioning on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict, the world has watched with baited breath for the Kremlin’s response.  International affairs took a positive turn this last week, with North and South Korean leaders meeting for the first time, beginning to build bridges of peace across the 38th parallel.

Weathering the Storm

With recent volatility, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 1.7% on the year as of April 27th, while the S&P has dropped 0.1%.  The tech heavy NASDAQ, however, has managed to navigate 2018 on the way to a 3.1% year to date growth.

In commodities last month, crude oil continued to climb, reaching its highest level since November 2014. Both Brent and WTI crude futures remained around the $70 mark last week.  The dollar posted a strong week, up 1.4% since April 20th, while lumber again climbed to a new record high.

For many, market conditions in 2018 are a welcomed change to 2017’s record low volatility. We at Robbins Trading Company have hosted the 35th consecutive ultimate trading challenge, giving professional traders the opportunity to showcase their talents in real time with real money.  While some may see the profits as reward enough in themselves, those who have committed to trading as their career have flocked to the WCTC as a means of gaining notoriety and recognition for their efforts, along with the potential of joining our World Cup Advisor team.

Adapting to Market Conditions

For some, 2018 may present the perfect opportunity.

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In the 2018 competition, a clear frontrunner and favorite has emerged in Paul Skarp of the United States.  In a stunning flurry of trades, Paul posted haymaker trade after haymaker trade to open the year. From the first day of tracking on February 20th, Skarp took over the pole position, and has not relinquished it once over 48 trading days.  Skarp has dealt with his own internal volatility, experiencing peaks and valleys like any trader, but still managed to close last week at 213.7%, more than enough to maintain his lead.

The next trader to take center stage on our leaderboard was the United States’ Allen Swiontek. On February 22nd he exploded into the top 5, taking only one more day to secure second place on February 23rd. He held onto that second place position from February 23rd through April 11th, posting a year high net return of 158.94% on April 5th.  Swiontek also has been the closest to surpassing Skarp’s, coming within 38% of first place on April 6th.  Since his peak, Swiontek has dropped in April, ending April 27th at 44.32%, holding onto third place.

The last member of the top 3, who has joined the two Americans at the top of the leader board, is Jan Smolen of Slovakia.  Smolen first broke into the top 5 on March 1st, reaching 51.51%. For the next month and a half he remained in the top 5, bouncing back and forth between 3rd and 4th place, until finally, on April 13th, he broke the century mark for the first time all year, souring to 113.93% net return, passing Swiontek to finish in 2nd.  Since then Smolen has continued to climb, reaching his year high of 143.1% on April 27th, closing the gap between himself and Skarp to 70.6%, its second lowest mark to date.

Chasing the Leaders

Another big story this year has not just been Paul Skarp’s lead over each other individual trader, but his besting of the field as a whole.  The lead was so staggering through February that I began tracking Skarp’s performance against “the Field” (2nd-5th combined), and through April 3rd Skarp’s returns surpassed the Field’s on 29 out of 30 trade days.  Since then, however, the Field has caught up and maintained a slight edge over Skarp, closing the week at 271.84%.

Every single trade day in the months of March and April have featured Skarp, Swiontek, and Smolen in the top 5, with 18 of those days holding them in the top 3. The other two positions in that time span, however, have shuffled between 9 different traders.  To close last week, those two members were Jonathan Brum da Silva making his 23rd appearance at 42.96% and 2016 WCTC Futures champion Artur Tereglov, who broke into the top 5 for the first time this week, closing trading in 5th place with a net return of 41.46%.

The other competitors who have reached the top 5 this year, in order of days spent on the leaderboard, Leonid Trubenkov (16), Kurt Sakaeda (16), Takumaru Sakakibara (15), Andrei Balansescu (15), Thomas Thurzo (10), Graeme Adams (7), and Petra Ilona Zacek (1).  As they fight to break back into the top 5, those on our leaderboard will seek to maintain their dominance over the field, as the traders seek the coveted title of World Cup Trading Champion.

COMPETE
in the World Cup
Trading Championships
FOLLOW
select past & current
World Cup Champions
LEARN MORE LEARN MORE

Trading futures and forex involves significant risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. World Cup Championship (WCC ) accounts do not necessarily represent all the trading accounts controlled by a given competitor. WCC competitors may control accounts that produce results substantially different than the results achieved in their WCC accounts. WCC entrants may trade more than one account in the competition.