Weekly Market Recap – December 18, 2020
In the Markets
Weekly initial jobless claims shot higher to 885,000; there were 862,000 new claims the previous week. The monthly report of the index of leading economic indicators advanced 0.6%, the lowest change in five months. Industrial production rose 0.4%, weaker than the prior month (+0.9%). The retail sales report for November was -1.1%, down from October’s (- 0.1%). Cumulative COVID-19 fatalities have surpassed 300,000 in the US, with 115,000 Americans now hospitalized with the virus. Nationwide, over 17 million cases have been identified. Vaccination, now a reality, is the primary focus of coronavirus news coverage.
Equities indices methodically crept into record territory throughout the week, some finishing at all-time end-of-week highs. The DJIA rose 132.68 (+0.4%), closing at 30,179.05 on Friday; the 45.95 rise in the S&P 500 (+1.3%) took it to a 3,709.41 close. The NASDAQ Composite index staged a 377.77 up move (+3.1%) to a 12,755.64 final mark. The Russell 2000 gained 3.58 (+2.3%), settling at 157.29 at week’s end. According to the CBOE VIX, volatility in equities eased from the previous week’s 12.1% rally by falling 1.74 (down 7.5%) and ended at 21.57 on Friday.
In currencies, the dollar took a further drubbing, as the spot USD Index ended at 89.92, its first close below 90.00 since mid-April 2018. In the S&P GSCI commodity portfolio, the gainers outpaced losers, advancing the benchmark by 14.29 (+3.6%), and settling at 408.01, the first time the index traded over 400 since late February 2020.
The metal futures we track here all ticked higher. Silver was the leader in percentage terms. March gained $1.941 (+8.1%), ending at $26.033 per ounce. February gold rose $45.30 (+2.5%), closing at $1,888.90, it’s highest price in a month. January platinum climbed $21.30 (+2.1%) to $1,043.10. March palladium added $38.90 (+1.7%) to $2,372.00. Base metals kept their uptrends intact; copper and aluminum scored new highs for the year. Copper rallied 10.45¢ (+3.0%) to close at $3.6325 per pound, and aluminum increased $34 (+1.7%), going out at $2,056.50 per metric ton.
NYMEX crude oil prices had a strong week, as January WTI ended Friday’s session at $49.10 by jumping $2.53 (+5.4%), and ICE Brent rallied $2.29 (+4.6%) to settle at $52.26 per barrel. Refined products improved, as well. Heating oil gained 7.61¢ to close at $1.5130 (+5.3%), while RBOB gasoline gained 8.79¢, settling at $1.3956 (+6.7%). Natural gas buyers have applied the brakes on the short-term cold forecast rally. January natgas popped higher Monday, but moved sideways on the charts for the rest of the week to manage a 10.9¢ (+4.2%) gain, closing at $2.700 per MMBtu.
In the agricultural markets that we cover in our recap, price direction was mostly higher. Corn and soybeans continued to trend upwards, while wheat was marginally lower. In those products, soybeans fared best, as the January contract rallied 5.0% with a 58¢ move to $12.24 per bushel; this has led veteran bean traders to give the old battle cry, “Beans in the Teens!” once again. Corn increased 14¢ (+3.3%) to its $4.37½ settlement. Wheat prices slipped to $6.08¼¢, with a 6¼¢ decrease (-1.0%). Coffee rose 3.65 points (+3.0%), with the March ICE futures ending the week at $1.2525 per pound. Cocoa lost $116 (-4.4%), settling at $2,506 per metric ton. Cotton made a new high for the year, adding 3.08 points (+4.2%), as the March contract closed at 77.16¢ per pound. For the third straight week, sugar has hardly budged, moving up only 0.01¢ (+0.1%) to its 14.44¢/lb. close. In the livestock markets, cattle rose 1.600 (+1.4%) to 114.850, while hog futures rallied 2.575 (+4.1%) closing at 65.800¢/lb. at week’s end.
World Cup Trading Championships®
In Futures, Stefan Seibert held 1st with a 355.4% net return. Brent Carlile climbed to 2nd with a net return of 283.8%. Michael O’Keeffe finished the week in 3rd with a net return of 254.1%. Yuwen Cao and Fernando C. Piñeiro rounded out the top 5 with net returns of 225.1% and 166.2% respectively.
In the Forex division, Jan Smolen claimed the top spot with a 129.5% net return. Sergey Shirko finished the week in 2nd with a 123.2% net return, with Scott Welsh in 3rd with a net return of 78.7%. Irwan Ariston and WenChen Zhang rounded out the top 5 with net returns of 76.2% and 33.8% respectively.
In the futures division of the 2020-2021 Global Cup Trading Championship, M. Vontobel of Tirutrade AG claimed first with a net return of 165.9%. Stefan Seibert held 2nd with a 154.6% net return. 3rd place is currently held by Cristian Franchi with a net return of 126.9%. Jan Smolen and Fernando C. Piñeiro finished the week in 4th and 5th with 108.3% and 95.4% net returns respectively.
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. CME Group is the trademark of CME Group, Inc. The Globe logo is a trademark of Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc.