Weekly Market Recap – September 18, 2020
In the Markets
Thursday’s Labor Department report stated that initial unemployment benefit claims totaled 790,000 before adjustments for seasonal factors, down from the prior week’s 866,000 tally. It is still four times what it had been before the pandemic led to shutdowns and layoffs back in March. As tech stocks continued taking a drubbing, equities indices struggled all week and closed marginally lower on Friday. The DJIA fell a fractional 8.22 (-0.03%), going out at 27,657.42: statistically unchanged. There was a 21.5 loss for the S&P 500 (-0.6%) closing at 3,319.47 for a six week low. Likewise, the NASDAQ Composite index followed suit, sagging 0.6% (-60.27) to its 10,793.28 final price. Holding its own, the Russell 2000 firmed 2.6%, canceling out its 2.6% decrease of the prior week, with its 3.14 rise to 123.12 points. Volatility eased 3.9%, evidenced by the VIX which slipped 1.02 to the 25.83 level. In the currency market, the US Dollar Index ebbed 0.28, with its 0.3% retreat to 92.99 on Friday.
Commodity prices gathered steam from buyers nudging the lion’s share of sectors. The GSCI ended at 358.03, up 5.0%, its highest weekly percentage increase since June 5th (+6.0%). As a group, metals are rising across the board. COMEX copper added 2.5%, closing at $3.1160/lb., its highest in over two years (copper reached $3.40 in June 2018.) LME three-month aluminum gained 1.2%, ending the week at $1,792.50 per metric ton. In the precious metals, only platinum decreased, with its $1.10 weekly reduction (-0.1%) to $938.50/oz. Palladium, on the other hand, jumped $50 (+2.1%) to $2,380.80 where it settled. December futures for gold and silver moved on the plus side: gold rose by $14.20 (+0.7%) to $1,962.10, silver increased by 27.2¢ to $27.129 (+1.0%).
NYMEX crude oil prices booked a hefty advance as October WTI ended Friday’s session at $41.11 by rallying $3.78 (+10.1%), and ICE Brent for November shot up $3.32 (+8.3%) to settle at $43.15 per barrel. Refined products soared higher, as well. Heating oil gained 6.94¢ to close at $1.1590 (+6.4%), while RBOB gasoline gained 14.17¢, settling at $1.2366 (+12.9%). Natural gas is on a downward trajectory with sentiment shifting away from the recent storm hype. Futures have revisited the psychological $2.00 support level. October natgas lost 22.1¢ (-9.7%). Fundamental drivers, such as higher inventories and stagnating LNG export demand have kept the selling pressure on to send the price to $2.048 per MMBtu, the lowest since late July.
In agricultural markets, the most conspicuous blip on the radar was coffee. Arabica plunged 18.95 points (-14.3%). On the ICE, coffee futures ended the week at 113.50 in the Dec. contract. Percentage-wise, this was the contract’s worst weekly performance since 1998. Warehouses in Brazil are full, and trucks are waiting to unload recently harvested coffee beans. Favorable rain has been positive to the crop yield and the repercussions from the pandemic’s related global business shutdowns have impacted consumer demand. In the other ICE softs, the moves were all higher. Sugar spiked 0.85¢ (+7.1%) to its 12.77¢/lb. close, and cocoa gained $93 (+3.6%), settling at $2,641 per metric ton. Cotton futures improved by 1.3%, as the December contract closed at 65.66¢ per pound. At the CME, dairy farmers still have a bull market in milk futures. The weekly price increase was 0.38¢ (+2.0%) to 19.59¢ for October delivery. Cattle rose 1.82 (+1.7%) to 107.350, while hogs traders took a breather after a 24% rally in the first half of the month; October lean hog futures eased 0.1%, closing at 66.500 after a 0.075 loss on the week. The CBT grains and oilseeds are on a roll to the upside. In those products, wheat was the star percentage performer of the week as the Decembers rallied 6.1% with a 33¢ move to $5.75 per bushel. November soybean prices popped high above the $10 handle, ending at $10.43½ with a 47.5¢ gain (+4.8%). December corn advanced 10¢ (+2.7%) to its $3.78½ settlement.
World Cup Trading Championships®
In Futures, Michael O’Keeffe has held the top position, based on the end of week standings, for the 23rd week in a row with a 397.4% net return. Yuwen Cao reclaimed 2nd with a net return of 300.6%. Stefan Seibert dropped down to 3rd with a net return of 256.3%. Evgeny Kartashov and Brent Carlile rounded out the top 5 with net returns of 165.8% and 137.7% respectively.
In the Forex division, Nicholas Ridley remained in the top spot with a 249.2% return. Patrick Nill climbed up to 2nd at 237.4%, with Jan Smolen moving down to 3rd with a net return of 126.2%. Raul Glavan and Sergey Shirko rounded out the top 5 with net returns of 103% and 88.3% respectively.
In the futures division of the 2020-2021 Global Cup Trading Championship, Vontobel of Tirutrade AG climbed up to first with a net return of 109.1%, with Adrian Koemel following in 2nd at 100%. 3rd place is currently held by Stefan Seibert with a net return of 82%. Fernando C. Piñeiro and Tobias Baerlin finished the week in 4th and 5th at 56.2% and 49.7% respectively.
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