Weekly Market Recap – December 24, 2020
In the Markets
After a couple of weekly reports showing that new jobless claims were increasing, the figure fell with 803,000 requests for unemployment benefits. The previous week had 892,000 initial claims. Americans who continue to be out of work now number 20.36 million; there were 20.65 million the previous week. Economic statistic releases, compared to their prior levels, were as follows: the consumer confidence index was 88.6 vs. 92.9, durable goods orders were 0.9% vs. 1.8%, core capital goods were 0.4% vs. 1.6%, personal income for November was down 1.1% (October had been 0.6%) and consumer spending fell 0.4% vs. +0.3%. At the end of the week, December’s US COVID-19 death toll was 63,000 Americans. By comparison, there were 36,000 US coronavirus deaths in the entire month of November. The stimulus legislation worked out by Congress includes a government shutdown prevention measure. The bill is awaiting President Trump’s signature. Britain and the E.U. reached a trade agreement on Brexit, after months of negotiations.
Stock market activity was relatively flat, however, equities investors kept the indices nudging historic levels, as the Russell 2000 hit a new all-time high. Its Friday close of 160.64 was up 3.35 (+2.1%) for the week. The DJIA managed a small up move of 20.82 (+0.1%), closing at 30,199.87 on Friday. The S&P 500 eased, losing 6.35 points (-0.2%), settling at 3,703.06 on the close. The NASDAQ Composite’s 49.09 rise (+0.4%) took it to 12,804.73 at settlement. CBOE’s VIX was fractionally higher by 0.16 points (+0.7%) to 21.73 at week’s end. The US Dollar Index also rose slightly, ending up 0.40 points (+0.4%) with its 90.32 close. After rising every week since October 30, S&P’s GSCI slipped by 3.35 (-0.8%) to 404.66 on Friday.
Metal futures prices declined, as gold futures shed $5.70 (-0.3%), ending at $1,883.20 per troy ounce. Silver eased $0.125 (-0.5%) to its $25.908 settlement price. Platinum and palladium gave back a bit more than gold and silver. The former fell $14.20 (-1.4%) to its $1,028.90 close, while the latter dropped to $2,345.90 (-1.1%) with a loss of $26.10 for March delivery. The base metals that we cover in our recap also weakened, as well. Copper retreated 7.0¢ (-1.9%) to close at $3.5625 per pound. LME aluminum for 3-month delivery declined $26.50 dollars per ton, ending at $2,030.00 (-1.3%).
In the energy sector, the markets we report here all moved lower for the week. In percentage terms, the largest selloff came in the January natural gas, losing 18.2¢ (-6.7%), and the closing bell left the price at $2.518 per MMBtu. The petroleum complex has been in a steady uptrend since early November. NYMEX February WTI ended Friday’s session at $48.23, down $1.01 (-2.1%). In a similar move, front-month ICE Brent declined 1.9%, losing $0.97 to settle at $51.29 per barrel. Refined products slumped, as well. January heating oil lost 2.30¢ to close at $1.4900 (-1.5%), while RBOB gasoline slipped 1.67¢, settling at $1.3789 (-1.2%).
Agricultural product price direction was higher. Of the nine products we regularly include in this category, cotton was the only one that decreased. March cotton fell by 0.96¢ (-1.2%), going out at 76.20¢ per pound. Coffee prices improved 0.70¢ (+0.6%) with the March ICE futures ending the week at $1.2595 per pound. Cocoa gained $87 (+3.5%), settling at $2,593 per metric ton. Sugar finally broke upwards, out of its holding pattern by 0.46¢ (+3.2%) to its 14.90¢/lb. close. In the Chicago markets, cattle firmed 0.125 (+0.1%) to 114.975, while hog futures moved 1.150 higher (+1.7%) closing at 66.950¢/lb. at the week’s end. The CBT grains and oilseeds continued to strengthen. Soybeans and corn both made new highs for the year. The March beans gained 3.3% with a 40½¢ move to $12.64½, while the corn increased 13½ ¢ (+3.1%) to a $4.51 settlement for March delivery. The price of March wheat also added 3.1% with a 18¾¢ rally for the week, but it wasn’t enough to break above the $6.37¾ top printed back on October 21st; wheat closed at $6.27 per bushel.
World Cup Trading Championships®
In Futures, Stefan Seibert held 1st with a 347% net return. Brent Carlile remained in 2nd with a net return of 283.4%. Michael O’Keeffe finished the week in 3rd with a net return of 251%. Yuwen Cao and Evgeny Kartashov rounded out the top 5 with net returns of 224.3% and 165.8% respectively.
In the Forex division, Jan Smolen claimed the top spot with a 111.5% net return. Scott Welsh finished the week in 2nd with a 78.7% net return, with Sergey Shirko in 3rd with a net return of 77.6%. Irwan Ariston and Raul Glavan rounded out the top 5 with net returns of 65.5% and 47.5% respectively.
In the futures division of the 2020-2021 Global Cup Trading Championship, Stefan Seibert claimed first with a net return of 149.3%. M. Vontobel of Tirutrade AG held 2nd with a 144.2% net return. 3rd place is currently held by Cristian Franchi with a net return of 134.2%. Jan Smolen and Fernando C. Piñeiro finished the week in 4th and 5th with 127.3% and 94.1% net returns respectively.
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