Weekly Market Recap – April 12, 2019

In the Markets

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast from 3.5% to 3.3%, while the United Kingdom avoided immediate Brexit repercussions, delaying the deadline to October 31st. The default decision, if nothing changes in the coming 6 months, remains a “No-Deal Brexit”, with no firm trade plan between the UK and the EU. Numerous options are still on the table, including a renegotiated Brexit deal, and a canceling of Brexit. The path to those decisions remains murky, with even the possibility of a new referendum.

Meanwhile, March data out of China hinted at a rebound in economic activity. As first quarter earnings reports are on the horizon, strong performance in certain sectors lead to the S&P 500 to finally close above the 2900 level, up 0.5% on the week. The NASDAQ also rose on the week, up 0.6%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished flat.

Crude oil extended its streak of gains, with WTI futures up 1.14% and Brent crude climbing 1.75%. Oil products followed suit, with gasoline futures advancing 2.96%. Heating oil’s growth was more muted, gaining 1.26%. Natural gas continued its trend of beginning the trading week with gains, only to fall back down by Friday’s close. It netted a loss of 0.38% on the week.

Platinum’s gains the week prior cooled off as the precious metal was down 1.08%. It retained the majority of those gains, but fell back below 900/t oz. Silver also fell on the week, down 1.07%, while gold edged slightly upwards, gaining 0.25%. Copper rebounded this week, up 1.73% through Friday.

Agricultural commodities saw several losses, with soybeans, corn, and wheat all dipping slightly on the week. Wheat saw the steepest drop of 0.67%, followed by corn futures at 0.52%, and soybeans at 0.36%.

Lean hogs, having already posted gains at a furious pace due to a swine flu outbreak in China, finished the week with another steep climb. Lean hogs futures gained another 13.1% on the week, as the contract is up more than 50% over the past month. China consumes 49% of the world’s pork, leading experts to worry about the severe impact this outbreak could continue to have on prices.

World Cup Trading Championships

The top 4 remained the same this week, as Eduardo Ramos continued his stay atop the leaderboard for another week, closing Friday with a net return of 198.4%. Andrei Balanescu finished in second with a net return of 110.4%, followed again by Holly Springs Pharmacy and its net return of 96.4%. Lukas Schreiber retained 4th place with a net return of 74.1%. Lananh Dang was the sole position change to the leaderboard this week, taking 5th place with a net return of 71.4%.

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Weekly Market Recap – April 5, 2019

In the Markets

Strong economic news out of the U.S. and China provided a lift to equity markets. The China March Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) signified modestly faster growth as it expanded following 6 straight months of mild contraction. Additionally, the U.S. employment report for March showed a hiring rebound following soft data in February. 196,000 jobs were added in March, bringing the 2019 average to 180,000 net jobs per month. While this is below the 2018 average of 235,000, the unemployment rate has remained at 3.8%.

The major indices responded positively to the news, with the Dow Jones climbing 1.9%, the S&P 500 up 2.1%, and the NASDAQ rose 2.7%. Decisions on U.S. China trade negotiations and Brexit still loom over the markets. Reports indicate progress between U.S. and Chinese officials, although IP transfers and tariffs remain unresolved. On the Brexit front, the UK Parliament rejected the latest Brexit proposal, leading to Prime Minister May’s request for an extension of UK membership in the EU from April 12th to June 30th.

Crude oil posted gains on the week on lower output from Saudi Arabia, with Brent futures climbing 2.85%, and WTI gaining 4.89%. Crude products followed suit, with gasoline up 3.86%, and heating oil rising 3.5%. Natural Gas began the week climbing 1.72% on Monday, but fell back down over the rest of the week, finishing almost flat, up 0.08%.

Platinum outperformed the rest of its sector on the week. While gold and silver were down 0.2% and 0.16% respectively, platinum futures gained 6.12% on the week, breaking $900 per ounce. Copper fell on the week, down 1.47%.

Agricultural commodities posted gains, with soybeans gaining 1.67%, corn rising 1.68%, and wheat rising 1.79%. Lean hogs rebounded from its small loss the week prior, up 2.13%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Eduardo Ramos maintain his lead, approaching the 200% mark, closing the week with a net return of 198.2%. Second place was held by Andrei Balanescu for the second week in a row, as he finished with a net return of 102.2%. Holly Springs Pharmacy returned to the top 5, posting a net return of 90.7%, giving them third place. Lukas Schreiber climbed into 4th place with a 79.6% net return, while Fabian Fischer held onto a spot in the top 5 with a net return of 60.3%.

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Weekly Market Recap – March 29, 2019

In the Markets

With the first quarter of 2019 in the books, the S&P 500 has posted its strongest quarterly performance in a decade. The S&P 500 finished the week up 1.2% on its way to a 13% gain on the quarter, just 3% off of its all-time high. The two other major U.S. indices also gained on the week, with the Dow Jones up 1.7% and the NASDAQ up 1.1%.

The latest GDP data showed the U.S. economy growing at a 2.2% pace in the fourth quarter, marking a 2.9% gain for 2018. On the flip side, ten-year interest rates continued to decline last week, dropping as low as 2.37%, the lowest level since December 2017 as investors continue to worry about an inverted yield curve. The yield curve only inverted briefly, but the relationship between short and long term interest rates continues to be viewed as an indicator of economic health.

Friday, March 29th was the deadline for a Brexit decision, as the UK Parliament voted to decline Prime Minister May’s deal, moving the deadline to April. The pound fell in relation to the USD as the British approach a potential hard Brexit with a transition plan out of the EU still lacking.

Crude oil made gains on the week, as WTI rose 1.86% and Brent futures climbed 2.03%. Oil products, however, did not match crude, with Heating Oil barely moving, up 0.38%, and Gasoline dropping 1.57%. Natural Gas plummeted again, marking a fourth straight week of losses with a 3.31% drop.

Precious metals dropped on the week, with the exception of Platinum, which managed a gain of 0.64%. Gold and silver, on the other hand, both dropped, down 1.47% and 1.93% respectively. Copper rebounded with a strong 6.5% gain on the week, as optimism begins to surround the U.S. and China.

Agricultural commodities displayed weakness, as corn fell steeply, down 5.75% on the week. Wheat and soybeans also fell, down 1.18% and 2.24% respectively. After substantial gains over the past few weeks due to swine flu outbreaks decimating Chinese hog populations, lean hog futures pulled back by 1.21% as other nations implement measures to protect against a similar outbreak.

World Cup Trading Championships

With the first quarter of the 2019 Championships wrapping up, Eduardo Ramos has retained the lead for another week, closing Friday at a net return of 119.8%. Andrei Balanescu regained second place, finishing with a net return of 73.1%. Fabien Fischer finished in third place with a net return of 63.6%. Jonathan Brum da Silva maintained a position in the top 5, finishing in fourth with a net return of 59.7%. The leaderboard was rounded out by Lukas Schreiber with a net return of 48.5%.

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Weekly Market Recap – March 22, 2019

In the Markets

The week started with the S&P 500 climbing to a new high for 2019 amid positive investor sentiment regarding U.S. Treasury yields and a dovish Fed. However, gains were wiped away on Friday, marking a 0.8% decline on the week for the S&P. The NASDAQ also fell, down 0.6%, while the Dow Jones dropped 1.3%.

On Wednesday, the Fed left interest rates unchanged, with no rate hikes scheduled for 2019 having lowered the GDP growth projection to 2.1%. While this dovish stance provided a boon to equity markets in the past, some have viewed the pivot from a previous plan of two 2019 work hikes as symptomatic of weakening global growth. Furthermore, the 10-year bond fell to 2.44%, its lowest mark of 2019, as the yield curve between it and the short term 3-month bill inverted on Friday for the first time since 2007.

In addition to the inverted yield curve, poor economic data out of Europe put downward pressure on markets. This included a lower Purchasing Managers Index, an indicator for the Eurozone manufacturing sector, as well as weakness in Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

WTI and Brent futures went in slightly opposite directions, with WTI crude up 0.89% on the week, while Brent fell 0.19%. Gasoline was up 3.67%, while heating oil only fell 0.1%. Natural gas marked its third straight week of loses, falling an additional 1.5% on the week.

Lean hogs futures continued their meteoric rise, up an additional 13.85% on the week as African Swine Flu (ASF) outbreaks impact hog farms across Asia. Reports suggest that China’s sow herd could be down 20 percent by the time ASF is controlled.

Precious metals posted gains across the board. Gold futures were up 0.72% while silver climbed 0.54%, but platinum lead the sector with a gain of 1.94% on the week.

Wheat and corn continued their gains, up 1.03% and 1.34% respectively, while soybeans cooled off, falling 0.58% on the week after recent gains. Flooding in the Midwest United States could push planting season to later dates.

World Cup Trading Championships

Eduardo Ramos again held onto first place, maintaining a net return of 117.1%. Jonathan Brum Da Silva took second place, finishing the week with a net return of 75%, while Andrei Balanescu held onto third place with a net return of 68.4%. The gap between third and fourth was again razor thin, as Fabien Fischer sat just 1.5% behind Balanescu, finishing the week with a net return of 66.9%. Fifth place featured a newcomer to the top 5, as Holly Springs Pharmacy, a U.S. based corporation, finished the week with a net return of 63.3%.

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Weekly Market Recap – March 15, 2019

In the Markets

U.S. equities rebounded from the losses of the prior week. The NASDAQ led the charge with a 3.9% gain, followed by the S&P 500’s 2.9% gain and the Dow Jones’ 1.6% climb. Fed Chair Jerome Powell continued to tout the Fed’s patient stance on 60 minutes, part of a global accommodative stance by central banks. The Chinese government joined the Fed’s dovish sentiments, voicing plans to continue supporting their slowing economy. Meanwhile in Europe, the U.K. voted to extend the Brexit deadline.

The 2-yr treasury yield finished flat at 2.44%, while the 10-yr fell to 2.59%. These near lows for the year combined with a weaker USD, and with the U.S. Dollar Index down 0.8%, was viewed by investors as a boon for equities.

Crude oil made stronger gains this week, extending its bullish streak as WTI futures climbed 4.37% and Brent futures rose 2.16%. OPEC agreed to further oil production cuts, but disagree on whether to keep those cuts in place through the end of the year. Gasoline also posted gains, up 3.11%, while heating oil dropped 1.61% as winter in the northern hemisphere begins its departure. Natural Gas fell for the second straight week, down 2.44%.

Gold pushed slightly higher, up 0.27%, while silver finished almost flat on the week. Platinum was the best performer in precious metals, up 1.58% on the week.
Grain commodities posted gains, with corn up 5.21% and wheat climbing 4.95%. Soybeans also rose, albeit at a lessor pace, up just 1.59% on the week.

Lean Hogs posted a strong performance, up 13.62%, marking a 21% clip over the last two weeks.

World Cup Trading Championships

The top competitors finished the week incredibly close to one another. First and second place were only separated by 0.2%, as Eduardo Ramos finished with a net return of 48.5% followed by Fabien Fischer’s net return of 48.3%. Third place Holger Groechel of Germany was just 2% behind these two, closing Friday at 46.1%. Jonathan Brum da Silva finished the week in fourth with a net return of 36%, followed by Princely Mathew who was within 1% of Jonathan at a net return of 35.1%.

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Weekly Market Recap – March 8, 2019

In the Markets

U.S. equities finished lower across the board with a batch of bearish news from around the globe. The U.S. employment report for February revealed weak job growth, with just 20,000 net jobs added, as wages rose at their fasted pace in a decade. Shrinking global growth was again part of the central narrative, with Chinese exports dropping 20.7% in February. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi took a dovish approach in a speech on Thursday, announcing a new series of Eurozone stimulus loans. The ECB also cut its growth forecast from 1.7% to 1.1%, joining China in lowering GDP predictions.

Nine of the 11 S&P 500 sectors dropped, with the index finishing the week down 2.2%. The Dow Jones joined the S&P, also falling 2.2% on the week, while the NASDAQ fell 2.5%. The mercurial start to 2019 for U.S. equities paused with five consecutive days of losses, as global trade tensions remain. U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad revealed that a date has yet to be set for the U.S. China summit. Neither side feels an agreement is imminent, as the two economic superpowers continue their negotiations.

Crude oil futures posted modest gains, with WTI gaining 0.48% and Brent rising 1.25%. Gasoline advanced at a quicker pace of 4.13%, resulting in the gasoline/crack spread gaining 16.89%. Heating oil did not follow suit, falling a slight 0.06%. Natural Gas futures fell 3.27% on the week after a recent string of gains.

A bearish WASDE report was echoed with losses in soybeans, corn, and wheat. Soybeans fell 1.73%, corn dropped 2.35%, and wheat lost 3.88%. Softs also finished down on the week. Cotton and cocoa lost just 0.49% and 0.86% respectfully, while coffee dropped 1.7%. Sugar was the weakest performer in the sector, falling 3.49%.

After last week’s volatility, gold and silver stabilized, going almost flat on the week, while platinum dropped significantly, down 5.43%.

World Cup Trading Championships

The top competitors finished the week incredibly close to one another. First and second place were only separated by 0.2%, as Eduardo Ramos finished with a net return of 48.5% followed by Fabien Fischer’s net return of 48.3%. Third place Holger Groechel of Germany was just 2% behind these two, closing Friday at 46.1%. Jonathan Brum da Silva finished the week in fourth with a net return of 36%, followed by Princely Mathew who was within 1% of Jonathan at a net return of 35.1%.

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Weekly Market Recap – March 1, 2019

In the Markets

As February came to a close, the S&P 500 completed its best two month start to a year since 1987 with the index gaining 11.5%. The indices continued to climb into March, closing Friday with a YTD growth of 11.8%. The NASDAQ gained 0.9%, finishing the week with a 14.5% year to date growth, while the Dow Jones ended the week flat, up 11.6% on the year.

March 1st came and went with the U.S-China tariffs remaining on the sideline. The deadline was officially delayed as the negotiations continue. It was reported Friday that the U.S. and China are currently drafting a document outlining the provisions of the deal, with the potential of a mid-March signing. In other U.S. negotiation news, the two-day summit in Vietnam between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended as the two were unable to reach an agreement on denuclearization.

Crude oil fell from its recent string of gains, with Brent falling 3.41% and WTI futures dropping 2.55%. Gasoline and heating oil futures fell at a slower rate, down 2.07% and 1.43% respectively. Natural Gas posted a strong week, adding to its recent bullish run with futures climbing 4.38% on the week.

Performance in precious metals displayed a wide range, with gold and silver futures posting significant losses. Gold fell 2.52% and silver plummeted 4.47%. Platinum and palladium on the other hand posted gains on the week. Platinum was up 2.1%, while palladium climbed 3.04%.

Agricultural commodities displayed weakness across the board. Soybeans fell 1.27%, corn dropped 3.05%, and wheat posted the weakest performance, down 6.68%. Softs also saw a myriad of losses, with cocoa falling 3.1%, and sugar dropping 5.11%. Coffee finished nearly flat, moving up 0.2%, while cotton managed muted gains, up 1.15%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Eduardo Ramos held on to the top spot again last week, closing Friday with a net return of 149.9%. Princely Mathew climbed to a net return of 76.8%, retaining second place. Fabien Fischer climbed into third place with a net return of 49.6%, followed closely by Marko Grcic at 44.3%. The top 5 was rounded out by Tze Chun Fung of Hong Kong, who joined the leaderboard with a net return of 35%.

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Weekly Market Recap – February 22, 2019

In the Markets

U.S. equities finished their fourth straight week of gains. The U.S-China trade talks provided positive news, with the two sides reporting unspecified progress towards agreements regarding currency, as well as China’s commitment to obtain $1.2 trillion in U.S. goods. Discussions are still ongoing on the topic of forced technology transfers and other points. President Trump stated that he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will most likely continue these conversations in March.

Another boon to the markets came in the form of the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) January minutes from their Wednesday meeting, further underlying the Fed’s intention to be patient in raising interest rates. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 both gained 0.6% on the week, marking an 11.6% and 11.4% YTD gain respectively. The NASDAQ gained 0.7%, raising its YTD gains to 13.4%.

Crude oil continued its rebound, with WTI gaining 1.89%, and Brent futures gaining 1.27%. Gasoline futures gained 1.57%, but heating oil’s gains were more muted, up 0.66%. Natural Gas futures continued their gains, up 2.97% on the week.

Wheat saw a deep drop off, falling 3.47%. Corn finished almost flat on the week, moving up 0.13%, while soybeans gained 0.3%. Softs had mixed results, with sugar and cotton futures gaining 2.31% and 1.6% respectively. Coffee dropped 1.62%, and cocoa futures lost 2.18% on the week.

Precious metals performedstrongly across the board. Gold gained 0.81%, and silver rose 1.09%. Platinum was the top performer in the sector, gaining 4.83% on the week. Copper was another top performer in commodities, gaining 5.47% on the week. China is the world’s leading copper consumer, providing a potential link between the price of the red metal, and the U.S-China trade negotiations.

World Cup Trading Championships

The top 5 continued their push forward in the shortened week, with Eduardo Ramos finishing atop the leaderboard with a net return of 153.5%. Princely Mathew finished in second place at a net return 65.7%, followed closely by Marko Grcic and his net return of 64.4%. Fabien Fischer’s net return of 51.4% was enough to maintain his 4th place position, while Petra Ilona Zacek again closed the week in 5th, gaining on the week to end with a net return of 36.8%.

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Weekly Market Recap – February 15, 2019

In the Markets

The S&P 500 climbed another 2.5% on the week, coming within 6% of its all-time high. The other two major U.S. equity indices followed suit, with the Dow Jones up 3.1% and the NASDAQ gaining 2.4%. Reports point to positive developments in the U.S. negotiations with China, including a potential extension for further talks past the original March 1st deadline. The U.S. government shutdown was avoided, as Congress and the President agreed to legislation preventing another closure.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a surge in job openings, including January marking the 10th consecutive month with openings exceeding exployment seekers, marking a tight employment market. Economic news was mixed, however, with retail sales dropping 1.2% in December, the largest decline since 2009.

Earnings reports have shown a 13% year over year growth with two thirds of S&P 500 reporting their fourth quarter results. This marks the fifth straight quarter of double-digit earnings growth.

Crude futures rebounded on the week, as WTI Crude gained 5.44% and Brent Crude rose 6.6%. Oil products also climbed, with gasoline up 8.75% and heating oil up 6.06%. Natural Gas finally had a positive week, rising by 1.63%.

Softs were a mixed bag, with sugar up 2.6% and cocoa gaining 4.84%, while coffee dropped 3.56% and cotton lost 2.47%. Soybeans and wheat both both dropped, down 0.77% and 2.51% respectively, while corn finished almost flat, up 0.13%.

Iron ore fell slightly from its recent gains, down 6.42% on the week. Silver fell 0.42%, while gold and platinum both posted gains, up 0.27% and 0.55% respectively.

World Cup Trading Championships

Eduardo Ramos continued his strong February performance, extending his lead, climbing to a net return of 140.8%. Princely Mathew jumped into second place, finishing the week with a 61.6% net return. 2016 WCTC finalist Marko Grcic retained 3rd place on the leaderboard, closing Friday at a net return of 56%. Fabian Fischer finished in 4th place with a net return of 49.5%, while defending champion Petra Ilona Zacek jumped into the top 5 with a net return of 28.4%.

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Weekly Market Recap – February 8, 2019

In the Markets

While U.S. equities started the week with gains, continuing their January run, international news put downward pressure on the major indices. Weakness in growth was visible across Europe, with the EU commission lowering its GDP growth forecast to 1.3% from 1.9%. The Bank of England made a similar decision, dropping its GDP growth outlook from 1.7% to 1.2%, as the UK approaches a March 29th decision point regarding the finality of Brexit. At that point the UK’s membership in the EU will expire.

U.S. China trade discussions also met a potential set back, with NEC (National Economic Council) Director Larry Kudlow referring to a sizable distance remaining. This was combined with the fact that President Trump confirmed that a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping was unlikely to occur before the March 1st deadline, when tariff rates will return to 25%. On the week, the S&P 500 finished flat, while the NASDAQ and Dow Jones both saw modest gains, up 0.5% and 0.2% respectively.

Crude oil futures fell, although the decline was felt much more in WTI futures than in Brent. WTI crude dropped 4.6% on the week, while Brent crude fell 1.13%. Crude products did not follow the path of the underlying raw material, as gasoline gained 0.66%, and heating oil only lost 0.22%. Correspondingly, the Gasoline Crack Spread gained 63.4%, while the Heating Oil Crack Spread rose 9.42%. Natural Gas again dropped, down 5.52% on the week.

The response to the first WASDE (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates) report for 2019 was muted, with the forecasted commodities all only dropping around 1%. Soybeans fell 0.35%, while corn lost 1.06%, and wheat fell 1.34%. Softs behaved similarly, with sugar down 0.87%, and cotton falling 1.48%.

Iron futures rallied this week, gaining 8.99%, while copper was up 1.35%. Precious metals saw losses, with gold down 0.27%, silver losing 0.77%, and platinum dropping 2.93%.

World Cup Trading Championships

A new leader took poll position this week, as Eduardo Ramos unseated Marko Grcic, finishing with a 58% net return. Marko held onto 2nd, finishing just behind Eduardo at a net return of 53%. Fabian Fischer returned to the top 5, closing the week in 3rd place with a net return of 36.4%. Princely Mathew’s 33.1% net return was enough to keep him in 4th place, as Tze Chun Fung rounded out the top 5 with a net return of 28%.

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Weekly Market Recap – February, 1 2019

In the Markets

The three major equity indices all posted gains on the week, with the Dow Jones up 1.3%, the NASDAQ climbing 1.4%, and the S&P up 1.6%. The S&P’s gains resulted in its strongest January since 1987, with many companies’ earnings reports stronger than expected.

The Fed adopted a more dovish approach this week, not raising interest rates, and signaling a more passive approach moving forward due to slow global growth and lessened inflation pressures. Additionally, the Fed indicated plans to retain more of its current bond holdings to keep borrowing costs low for companies and consumers.

The January employment report revealed 300,000 jobs created in the month, as well as a 3 cent growth in hourly wages. The unemployment rate, however, climbed back to 4%.

Global factors continue to worry investors, including continued tensions surrounding Brexit, Italian debt, and the still unfinished U.S. China negotiations.

Crude oil futures rallied on the week, as WTI crude climbed 2.92% and Brent futures rose 2.03%. Gasoline and heating oil followed suit, up 2.29% and 1.38% respectively. Despite the recent polar vortex gripping the Midwestern U.S., Natural Gas futures plummeted 10.42% as spring sits just around the corner.
Precious metals saw rallies across the board, with gold and platinum both up over 1%, and silver leading the pack with a 1.48% gain.

The agricultural sector saw losses in many commodities ahead of the much anticipated WASDE report, including small dips of less than 1% in soybeans, corn, and wheat. Coffee and cocoa futures fell more sharply, down 2.9% and 2.56% respectively, while sugar was a lone positive, up 1.29% on the week.

World Cup Trading Championships

Marko Grcic maintained his lead, extending his net return from 42.9% to 53%. The remaining 4 on the leaderboard experienced a shakeup, with Bernd Klinsmann of Germany rising from the fray to claim second place with a net return of 37.1%. The U.S’s Princely Mathew claimed 3rd place with a net return of 33.4%, followed closely by Tze Chun Fung’s 30.1% net return. Jonathan Brum da Silva joined Marko as the only traders to retain their position in the top 5, finishing the week with a net return of 28.5%.

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Weekly Market Recap – January 25th, 2019

In the Markets

The longest U.S. government shutdown came to an end to close the week, with an agreement to reopen the federal government through February 15th. The major equity indices saw limited moves on the shortened week, each finishing almost flat, as the Dow Jones and NASDAQ both rose 0.1%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.2%. The S&P is still up 13.2% since its plummet on December 24th, and up 6.3% year to date.

In addition to the news regarding the government shutdown, there were indications that the fed may be reaching its balance sheet normalization targets. Also, applications for unemployment benefits fell below 200,000 for the first time since 1969, further underlying the strong jobs market. News was mixed however, as global growth data put a damper on the positive market news, with China recording its slowest GDP growth since 1990, posting a 6.6% economic expansion. Some projections for 2019 and 2020 are even lower as the economic superpower continues trade talks with the U.S.

Venezuela’s political crisis escalated this week, as Juan Guaidó declared himself acting president challenging sitting President Nicolás Maduro. A 2017 OPEC report showed that Venezuelan crude reserves are even greater than those of Saudi Arabia. While in the short term, crude oil did not show a significant response to these events, as WTI futures only fell 0.56% on the week, and Brent futures dropped 1.71%, events in the South American nation could have an impact on the global crude market.

Other energies also dropped on the week, with gasoline dropping 3.85%, heating oil falling 0.97%, and natural gas posting the most substantial drop of the sector, down 8.73%.

Precious metals showed strong performance, with gold futures up 1.21%, silver up 1.95%, and platinum climbing 2.02%.

Agricultural commodities will await the February 8th WASDE report with the reopening U.S. government, which was absent in January during the shutdown. Sugar and cocoa posted losses in softs, down 4.53% and 3.55% respectively, while coffee gained on the week, up 1.76%.

World Cup Trading Championships

The 2019 World Cup Championships of Futures Trading® are gaining momentum with Marko Grcic of Croatia jumping out to an early lead, closing Friday with a net return of 42.9%. Marko was followed by Brazilian Eduardo Ramos with a net return of 24.8%, and Jonathan Brum da Silva of Portugal with a net return of 22.2%. Fourth place was secured by Fernando Cadilla Pineiro of Spain, with a net return of 20.3%, and the top 5 was rounded out by Patrick Nill of the U.S. who posted a net return of 17.7%.

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Weekly Market Recap – January 18th, 2019

In the Markets

The U.K. took the spotlight last week. On Tuesday, Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the largest parliamentary loss in more than a century. On Wednesday, May’s government narrowly survived a no-confidence vote, and she signaled that she was willing to negotiate a Brexit deal that everyone could get behind. It’s become increasingly likely that the negotiation period will be extended to avoid a hard Brexit. The British pound was trading between $1.29 – $1.30 against the dollar on Friday in the upper end of its trading range. The markets seem to favor extending the deadline as long as possible.

On Friday, China’s offer for a six-year boost in imports of U.S. goods were reflected by the markets as a sign of hope among economic uncertainty between the U.S. and China. The DJIA was up over 330 points or 1.38% higher on Friday with gains of 1.32% in the S&P 500 and 1.03% in the NASDAQ on the final session of the week. That leaves weekly gains of 3%, 2.9% and 2.8% for the DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ respectively.

Commodities saw a boost with the prospect of easing trade tensions in some of the hardest hit markets. Corn rose 0.93% for the week. Soy saw a gain of 0.71%, and CBOT Wheat lost a marginal -0.34%. Feeder Cattle lost -1.43% and Lean Hogs were down -2.27% falling below $0.60/lb. Energies gained with help from cold weather. Natural Gas was up +12.36%, Brent Crude up 3.67%, and NYMEX Crude rose 4.28%. Gasoline futures gained 3.72% and Heating Oil was up 1.93% for the week. Softs saw modest gains. Coffee gained 1.06%, Sugar up 1.96%, Cocoa rose 2.08%, and Cotton closed the week up 1.93%.

With US Dollar Index Futures up 0.76%, precious metals fell. Gold dropped -0.54%, Silver and Platinum were down -1.64% and -1.94% respectively. The markets seem to still be closely tied to the news cycle, but mostly positive gains ended the week with the VIX dropping to 0.44.

World Cup Trading Championships

The 2019 World Cup Championships of Futures and Forex Trading is underway. Many of last year’s top performers, as well as plenty of new names are in the running. Stay tuned for updates as the exciting event takes off. For those of you waiting on the sidelines, now is the time to join. ENTER NOW!

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Weekly Market Recap – January 11th, 2019

In the Markets

After a tumultuous end to 2018, with high market volatility the major equity indices have climbed to start the new year amidst positive investor sentiment. The S&P closed the week up 2.5%, resulting in a 3.6% YTD return in 2019. The Dow Jones rose 2.4%, up 2.9% YTD, and the NASDAQ finished the week up 2.5%, totaling a 5.1% growth YTD.

A myriad of factors have contributed to this new year, new market recovery.. The latest jobs report showed 312,000 added in December, along with faster wage growth, up 0.4% on the month. This was much higher than the expected 184,000 gain. Additionally, October and November were revised upward, resulting in the last three months of 2018 averaging a monthly job growth of 254,000.

Additionally, a more dovish tone was taken by Fed Chair Powell regarding interest rates and inflation, backed up by the Fed’s latest policy meeting that stressed patients with regards to further rate hikes.

On the trade front, meetings in Beijing between U.S. and Chinese officials extended beyond their scheduled 2 days, with encouraging comments coming from the 3 day talks that may hint to progress in the trade negotiations.

Crude oil continued its positive trend in 2019, with both WTI and Brent futures posting their second consecutive weekly gains, up 7.57% and 6.03% on the week respectively. Oil products also finished the week in positive territory, with gasoline gaining 3.92% and heating oil rising 6.25%. Natural gas ended the steep drop that began 2019, up 1.81% on the week.

Agricultural markets faced a unique obstacle this week when the USDA did not release its January WASDE report on January 11th due to the ongoing U.S. government shutdown. The resulting lack of data may add uncertainty to hedgers and speculators as they attempt to navigate market moves. On the week, corn and soybeans both dropped 1.2%, while wheat gained a meager 0.48%.

Softs were one of the top performers in commodities, as sugar gained 7.12%. Coffee finished up 2.21% as the Brazilian currency (Real) showed strength.

World Cup Trading Championships

The 2019 World Cup Championships of Futures and Forex Trading is underway. Many of last year’s top performers, as well as plenty of new names are in the running. Stay tuned for updates as the exciting event takes off. For those of you waiting on the sidelines, now is the time to join. ENTER NOW!

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Weekly Market Recap – December 31st, 2018

In the Markets

Despite the shortened holiday week, a historically uneventful week in trading, was peppered with volatility in equity markets. The week began with all three major indices posting substantial losses, as the Dow recorded its worst Christmas Eve ever, and the S&P 500 fell to 20% below its peak. As the market entered oversold conditions, combined with positive consumer spending reports for holiday shopping, the three indices rebounded into positive territory for the week. The Dow finished the 28th up 2.7% on the week, the S&P climbed 2.9%, and the NASDAQ finished Friday up 4% on the week.

The rebound was not enough to clear the year to date losses, however, as the Dow lost 6.7% on the year, while the S&P lost 7% year to date, and the NASDAQ ended the week down 4.6% on the year.

Oil futures followed a similar trend, plummeting on the 24th, before rebounding after the holiday break. Neither Brent nor WTI crude were able to enter positive territory on the week, however, with WTI falling 0.57% and Brent dropping 1.46%. Gasoline futures fell 0.36%, while heating oil posted a steeper loss, down 3.74% on the week. Natural Gas fell significantly, losing 9.13% on the week.

Gold and silver both posted gains, with gold up 1.98% and silver gaining 4.99%. Platinum fell, down 0.78% on the week.

Softs saw a variety of results. Sugar and coffee rose slightly, up 0.41% and 1.25% respectively, while cocoa finished strong up 6.03%. Cotton fell, down 1.35%. Corn fell 0.79%, wheat lost 0.49%, and soybeans finished almost even, down 0.08%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Petra concluded December 31st atop the leaderboard, ending the year with a net return of 257.9%. Paul Skarp returned to the top 5, vaulting all the way back into second place with a net return of 65.2%. Fabien Fischer followed in 3rd with a net return of 62.5%, followed closely by Adrian Koemel in 4th at 58.5%. The top 5 was wrapped up by Ryan Alderson, who finished the 31st with a net return of 57.9%.

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Weekly Market Recap – December 21st, 2018

In the Markets

Equity markets fell sharply last week, as the Dow Jones was down 6.9% and the S&P 500 dropped 7.1%. The NASDAQ posted the largest loss, nearing bear market territory for the tech-heavy index as its 8.4% decline this week marked a 20% drop from its peak. Chief among investors’ concerns was the Fed’s decision to execute the fourth interest rate increase of 2018, bringing short-term interest rates up to a range of 2.25-2.5%. Despite the recent market downturn, along with growing geopolitical concerns, Fed Chair Powell stuck to the data-driven approach, responding to broader economic conditions such as rising GDP, a tight labor market, and strong consumer sentiment as the Fed attempts to quell rising inflation. Meanwhile, the sell-off signals a fear amongst investors that the economy may not be able to handle the pace of interest rate increases with the increasing uncertainty in global trade.

Adding to the plethora of bearish factors this week was the threat of a government shutdown, which could add another obstacle to the major indices’ recovery. This was exacerbated by the fact that it comes during the 90-day ceasefire in the U.S.-China trade tensions with no clarity on what will happen at its end. As whispers of a recession grew louder, eyes were on the yield curve as the gap between the long-term 10 year treasury note and the short-term 3 month treasury bill narrowed but did not invert. An inversion historically precedes an economic recession, so the lack of one at this time may prove to be a bullish indicator in the midst of this correction.

Crude oil continued to slide, as WTI futures dropped 11.42% and Brent fell 10.9%. This decline was echoed in oil products, as gasoline futures fell 9.18% on the week and heating oil lost 6.21%. Natural Gas, which has continued to display volatility in response to weather projections, managed to end its recent decline, up a modest 0.77% on the week.

Soybeans, grains, and softs saw losses across the board. Soybeans and corn dropped 1.75% and 1.62% respectively, while wheat futures fell 3.02% on the week. Sugar lost 2.45%, coffee was down 2.49%, and cotton plummeted 8.07%. Cocoa was the group’s only positive on the week, gaining 1.52%.

Gold managed to gain 1.35% as investors gravitated to the precious metal in the midst of the sell-off in other asset classes.

World Cup Trading Championships

As the WCTC enters the final stretch, Petra Ilona Zacek holds a commanding lead in the futures competition, closing the week with a 249.2% net return. Fabien Fischer finished the week in 2nd with a net return of 62.5%, followed by Adrian Koemel in 3rd at 57.4%. Jan Smolen made it back to the top 5 with a net return of 52.7%, while Ryan Anderson rounded out the leader board at 51.8%.

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Weekly Market Recap – December 14th, 2018

In the Markets

Initial steps were taken in the U.S-China trade negotiations, as the 90-day ceasefire began with substantial, albeit still temporary, moves from the People’s Republic. Chinese officials hinted at tweaks to the “Made in China 2025” policy by allowing further access and fairer competition for foreign companies. Furthermore, China announced plans to aquire more U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans, while also lowering the Chinese tariff on U.S. car imports from 40% to 15% during the 90-day period. While these steps are notable, it remains to be seen if they have staying power as a long-lasting resolution to the trade conflicts.

Despite progress in global trade, as well as positive indicators in the form of a higher than expected increase in U.S. retail sales, equities still slid lower on the week. The Dow Jones fell 1.2%, the S&P 500 fell 1.3%, and the NASDAQ dropped 0.8%. There were many sources of caution abroad, including weaker than expected industrial production and retail sales in China. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi echoed this caution with regards to the European economic outlook, announcing a trim to growth forecasts. Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote, while France continued to experience the “Yellow Vest” protests against increasing living costs and President Macron’s economic policies.

After a prolonged bullish streak, natural gas futures came plunging back to earth, falling 14.73% on the week due to warm weather forecasts. Crude oil futures also fell, with WTI down 2.68% and Brent futures falling 2.38% on the week.

Soybeans fell 1.77% despite news of increased purchasing by China, while corn and wheat finished almost flat, down just 0.19% and 0.24% respectively.

Dollar Index futures climbed 0.72, as all eyes will be on the Fed meeting taking place on Wednesday, December 19th, as markets await a potential fourth interest rate hike.

World Cup Trading Championships

As we approach the final 10 trading days of the year, Petra Ilona Zacek still sits firmly atop the leaderboard, finishing last week with a net return of 226.2%. The battle for second was a contentious affair, with Ryan Alderson finishing the week ahead of the rest of the pack with a net return of 68.5%, followed by Fabian Fischer in 3rd with a net return of 62.5%. Less than 20% separates 2nd place from 5th place, as Adrian Koemel sits in 4th with a net return of 57.3, and Archi Ma rounds out the top 5 at 51%.

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Weekly Market Recap – December 7th, 2018

In the Markets

Volatility spiked last week, as Monday equities rallied, before dropping substantially on Tuesday. Thursday saw a potential recovery, before the major indices fell again to close Friday. On the week, the Dow Jones fell 4.5%, the S&P 500 dropped 4.6%, and the NASDAQ lost 4.9%.

While the U.S. and China recently announced the 90 day ceasefire to work out a trade deal, investors expressed worry that the March 1st deadline was too close on the horizon for the economic superpowers to work through years of major trade issues. Throwing a potential wrench into these trade negotiations was the arrest of Huawei Technologies’ CFO Meng Wanzhou based on the Chinese company’s alleged violation of U.S. trade sanctions on Iran.

Additionally, a portion of the yield curve inverted, as three-year yields rose above five-year yields for the first time since 2007. The U.S. November Jobs report showed 155,000 jobs added, down from the 200,000 per month average over the last half a year.

In energy markets, Qatar, which has dealt with a blockade from Saudi Arabia, announced that it will leave OPEC to concentrate on its natural gas business. Remaining OPEC members came to a decision on Friday, December 7th to cut crude oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day. In response WTI and Brent crude futures rallied slightly from their bearish last two months, moving up on the week 3.3% and 4.47% respectively. Natural Gas, which had enjoyed bullish moves in this same time period, fell 2.69% on the week.

Precious metals gold and silver showed strong performance on the week, with the yellow metal up 2.17%, and silver futures climbing 3.37%. Grains and soybeans also posted gains, with corn up 2.05%, wheat up 3.01%, and soybeans rising 2.46%. The USD cooled off this week, which gave a favorable lift to commodities.

World Cup Trading Championships

The WCTC leaderboard also showed substantial volatility, as traders shuffled for position entering the final stretch. Petra Ilona Zacek, however, was untouched by her fellow competitors’ moves as she remained firmly in first place, closing Friday with a 221% net return on the year. Ryan Alderson moved into second place with a net return of 91.1%, followed by Paul Skarp in third place at 73.9%. Adrian Koemel was next with a net return of 57.3%, while Fabian Fischer returned to the leaderboard for the first time since October on the back of a 54.7% net return.

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Weekly Market Recap – November 30th, 2018

In the Markets

This week U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell appeared to take on a more dovish stance, stating that interest rates were closer to neutral. He went on to articulate that the Fed would be data-dependent in its decision making, as opposed to following a preset policy path. This sent equities rebounding, as the Dow Jones climbed 5.2%, the S&P 500 rose 4.8%, and the NASDAQ increased 5.6%. In Argentina, the U.S. and China agreed to a 90-day reprieve from the recent trade tensions, which provided another boon to equity markets.

Crude oil avoided its 8th consecutive week of losses in a row, with WTI Futures moving up 1.01%, and Brent Futures remaining relatively flat, up 0.1% on the week. Despite flattening out their losses this week, crude oil still posted its worst monthly decline since October 2008. On December 6th oil ministers of OPEC will gather in Vienna, Austria to discuss the weak environment for the energy commodity. Gasoline rebounded up 1.88%, while heating oil futures dropped 2.18%. Natural Gas returned to strength after taking a relative break the week prior, climbing 7.06% through on the week to end November.

Corn, wheat, and soybeans all posted gains, with corn climbing 2.03%, wheat rising 1.83%, and soybeans gaining 1.56%. Softs saw gains across the board, with the exception of coffee, which fell 3.06%. Cotton gained 2.19%, sugar saw an 2.97% increase, while cocoa stood as the top performer in the group, up 3.82% on the week.

Gold and silver both moved down slightly, losing 0.29% and 1.06% respectively. Platinum saw a more substantial slide than its fellow precious metal futures, down 5.23% on the week.

World Cup Trading Championships

The top 4 at the end of the week remained in the same position as the week prior. Petra Ilona Zacek took 1st again with a net return of 216.3%, followed by Kurt Sakaeda at 153.5%, and Paul Skarp in 3rd at 91%. Ryan Alderson stayed on Skarp’s heels, finishing in 4th with a net return of 87.6%. Adrian Koemel returned to the leaderboard for the first time since mid-November, finishing in 5th with a net return of 57.3%.

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Weekly Market Recap – November 23rd, 2018

In the Markets

On a shortened week, with the U.S. celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, equity markets took another large hit, with both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 slipping into the red for year to date returns after the Dow fell 4.4%, and the S&P fell 3.8%. The NASDAQ also dipped on the week, falling 4.3%. With Black Friday marking the beginning of winter retail, the major indices have taken a recent bearish turn, including the worst Thanksgiving-week performance in seven years.

While equity markets suffered, the big story of the week was plunging crude prices. WTI and Brent futures both posted double digit losses, with WTI down 11.59% and Brent falling 11.93%. No single catalyst stood above the rest with regards to the steep decline, with a plethora of worries including weakness in equities, geopolitical concerns, and softening demand combined with oversupply. Crude products also fell, with gasoline futures down 12.45% and heating oil dropping 9.92%. Natural Gas cooled off, but still finished the week positive, up 0.82%.

Eyes will be on Buenos Aires, Argentina as the G20 summit to be held on November 30th-December 1st may have substantial implications on global markets. Center stage will be the sit-down between U.S. President Trump, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as the two economic powers look to reach consensus amidst trade disputes and tensions.

A strong USD continued to weigh on commodities, with grains and softs seeing losses across the board. Corn fell 1.58%, wheat dropped 1.38%, and soybeans lost 1.26%. Sugar decreased 1.73%, while coffee and cocoa lead the way in terms of losses in softs, down 4.6% and 4.93% respectively.

A top positive performer in commodities was lumber, which gained 3.1% on the week, while copper dropped 1.23%. Silver fell 0.85%, while gold finished nearly flat, moving up 0.02%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Petra Ilona Zacek extended her lead to 31 straight days atop the leaderboard, finishing the shortened week at 256.8% net return. Kurt Sakaeda also broke away from the pack this week, showing strong gains on the week ending with a net return of 181.81%.

Paul Skarp ended the week in 3rd place with a net return of 81.15%, followed by Ryan Alderson and Archie Ma, who sat within a quarter point of one another. Ryan took 4th at 69.29%, and Archie Ma rounded out the top 5 at 69.04%.

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Weekly Market Recap – November 16th, 2018

In the Markets

After beginning November with a slight recovery from the October slump, equities turned bearish again, with the three major indices all falling on the week. The Dow Jones dropped 2.2%, the S&P 500 fell 1.6%, and the NASDAQ lost 2.1%. The consumer price index report showed rising inflation in October, with consumer prices up 2.5% over the past year. Core inflation (excluding volatile food and energy prices), however, has remained consistent with the Fed’s projection, which may keep them on their scheduled interest rate increase plan. This was highlighted by Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida stating on Friday that the Fed was getting closer to a neutral rate.

Saudi Arabia announced that it would cut its oil exports by 500,000 barrels a day in December, with both OPEC and non-OPEC nations potentially following suit, as crude oil continues to show low demand. Oil futures fell in response, with WTI crude falling by 6.2%, and Brent crude dropping by 4.83%. Gasoline and heating oil futures also posted losses, down 2.74% and 4.56% respectively. Natural Gas futures, however, again posted substantial gains, climbing 14.87% on the week.

Dollar index futures dropped from recent highs, as gold and silver rose. Gold gained 1.19%, and silver went up 1.71%. Platinum, however, fell 1.1% on the week.

Soybeans and wheat both posted positive weeks, with soybeans up 0.62%, and wheat climbed 0.95%. Corn futures, on the other hand, dropped 1.35%.

Softs saw losses across the board, with sugar falling 0.31%, and coffee dropping 1.1%. Cocoa and cotton both fell over 2.5%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Petra continued her streak of holding onto 1st place, closing Friday at 246.4%. Kurt Sakaeda took over second place on Thursday, finishing the week at 117.9%. Archie Ma held onto third place, ending at 96%, followed by Paul Skarp who was on his heels at 93.9%. Ryan Alderson climbed back into the top 5 for the first time since September, vaulting to 84.4% to round out the leaderboard.

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Weekly Market Recap – November 9th, 2018

In the Markets

The United States’ midterm elections were held on Tuesday, resulting in a split Congress as the Democrats took control of the House, and the Republicans retained control of the Senate. Historically, a split Congress bodes well for U.S. equity markets, and the big three indices responded well on the week, with the Dow Jones climbing 2.8%, the S&P 500 rising 2.1%, and the NASDAQ ending Friday up 0.7%. The Fed released its policy statement on Thursday. While they left the federal funds rate unchanged, indicators seem to point to the planned fourth rate increase in December, as the statement focused on bullish market factors including sustained economic growth and a strong jobs market.

Despite exemptions to sanctions on Iran allowing exempted nations to import Iranian oil, crude futures continued to drop amid oversupply worries and weak demand. WTI futures fell 4.67%, and Brent futures dropped 3.88%, as markets will continue to eye a potential supply cut from Saudi Arabia and OPEC. Heating Oil futures finished the week flat, while Gasoline followed crude falling 5.09%. Natural Gas was again the big winner in energy, shattering even its recent bullish performance, climbing 13.25% on the week.

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates were released on Thursday, and soybean futures responded down 0.11%, corn fell 0.4%, and wheat dropped 1.33%.

The USD showed strength this week, as dollar index futures rose 0.41%. The strengthening USD put negative pressure on precious metals, with gold down 2%, and silver dropping 4.17%.

Softs also saw weak performance, with sugar and coffee both falling over 5% on the week. Cocoa and cotton did not fall as significantly, but still fell 0.75% and 0.89% respectively.

World Cup Trading Championships

Petra Ilona Zacek extended her streak to 22 straight trading days atop the leaderboard, approaching a 300% net return as she closed the week at 295% year to date return. Second place shuffled between three traders, eventually being taken by Archie Ma to close Friday, who ended with a net return of 116.6%. Kurt Sakaeda finished in 3rd place after closing the week at a 106.7% net return, having held onto second briefly on Wednesday. Paul Skarp finished right behind him in 4th place with a net return of 99.7%. Jan Smolen returned to the top 5, closing in the final spot of the leaderboard with a net return of 61.2%.

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Weekly Market Recap – November 2nd, 2018

In the Markets

U.S. equities experienced an anticipated rebound from recent losses, with both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 gaining 2.4% on the week and returning to positive territory for year to date movement. The NASDAQ also gained, up 2.6% on the week. Positive jobs report data potentially aided this market response, with 250,000 jobs added in October, while unemployment remained at 3.7%., and wages grew 0.2%. Additional uplifting news came in the form of trade tensions easing between the U.S. and China, as President Trump reported a conversation with Chinese President Xi, with further confirmations of the two leaders meeting at the G-20 summit in Argentina.

While crude oil had looked at two weeks of losses in response to Saudi Arabia’s potential production increase, both Brent and WTI futures experienced substantially greater losses in the last week with sanctions against Iran beginning. Brent futures dropped 6.19%, and WTI futures fell 6.58%. Gasoline and heating oil followed suit, dropping 5.72% and 5.67% respectively. Natural gas, however, gained 1.01% on the week.

After a string of losses following highs reached early in the year, lumber surged back, up 11.15%. Soybeans were another top performer in commodities, gaining 3.53%. Corn and wheat futures saw modest gains of 0.95% and 0.69% respectively, while sugar lost 2.89%.

Gold lost 0.25% as the USD continues to show strength, while silver rose 0.38%. Platinum outpaced precious metals though, rising 4.95%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Petra Ilona Zacek continued her strong performance last week, extending her lead and growing her net return to a high for the year of 206.1%. Kurt Sakaeda also made a strong showing, returning to second place on the polls for the first time since July. The former WCTC champion ended the week with a net return of 110.1%, keeping Petra’s lead below triple digits.

Paul Skarp maintained his position in third place, closing at 105.2%. Carlos Eisenberg made a return to the top 5, having been absent through September and October, closing the week at 98.9%. Archie Ma rounded out the leaderboard with a net return of 94.1%.

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Weekly Market Recap – October 26th, 2018

In the Markets

Last week’s calm proved to merely be the eye of the storm, as a second wave of corrections rocked equity markets. Volatility soared as the Dow Jones fell 3%, the NASDAQ dropped 3.8%, and the S&P descended 3.9% on the week. This decline occurred despite reports showing that U.S. GDP grew at 3.5% in the third quarter, and despite corporate earnings up 20% from last year for the third quarter.

A strengthening USD, rising interest rates, and numerous geopolitical concerns are potentially at play as prices continue to fall. With slowdowns in China and other foreign markets, tariff worries, and political and diplomatic uncertainty, it seems that earnings growth was not strong enough to quell investor fears.

In energy, it appeared as if Saudi Arabia’s long held production cap on crude oil may come at an end amidst continued allegations regarding Saudi involvement in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. With a potential increase in crude oil supply from one of the world’s leading oil producers on the horizon, prices of both Brent and WTI futures dropped, down 2.62% and 2.44% respectively.

Heating oil futures remained steady, while gasoline futures dropped 5.14%. Natural gas, after two weeks of gains, fell 2% on the week.

Soybeans and wheat both fell, with soybean futures falling 1.37%, and wheat dropping 1.85%, while corn rebounded slightly, up 0.2%. Cocoa gained 4.12%, while coffee and sugar both fell from their large gains, down 2.01% and 0.36% respectively.

Copper fell 1.33%, and lumber futures plummeted 5.58%. Iron ore, however, gained 4.33% on the week. Gold posted narrow gains, up 0.63%, joined by silver futures which climbed 0.34%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Petra Ilona Zacek held onto her lead through the week, finishing with a net return of 128.9%. Paul Skarp closed the gap to just over 30%, closing Friday at a net return of 97.8% and reclaiming 2nd place.

Jan Smolen held onto 3rd finishing with a net return of 78.5%, while Kurt Sakaeda made a return to the leaderboard, claiming 4th at 63.7%. The top 5 was rounded out with Adrian Koemel, who closed the week with a net return of 60.8%.

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Weekly Market Recap – October 19th, 2018

In the Markets

After a roller coaster week in U.S. equity markets, the indices stabilized on the week with the Dow Jones up 0.4%, the NASDAQ down 0.6%, and the S&P 500 finishing the week even.  While the S&P 500 finished without a net move, it climbed 2.15% on Tuesday, before falling back during the rest of the week, including a 1.44% decline on Thursday.  As equities move into earnings announcements, the role that individual company forecasts vs macro-economic factors play on the large indices will be seen.

WTI Crude futures fell 2.87%, falling below $70/bbl.  Brent Crude futures also fell, but posted a smaller decline, down 0.81%.  Fallout revolving Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the death of a Saudi journalist could end in Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest oil producer, cutting supplies.  Heating oil and gasoline both also fell on the week, down 1.09% and 1.64% respectively, while natural gas futures continued their upward momentum, up 2.82% on the week.

Gold posted a 0.55% gain on the week, retaining its recent gains despite U.S. dollar index futures also climbing 0.56% on the week.

Grains and soybeans fell on the week, with corn sliding 1.81%, soybeans falling 1.24%, and wheat dropping 0.48%.

After falling to their low for the decade in September, coffee and sugar futures posted impressive gains. Coffee climbed 4.76%, while sugar was a top performer in commodities climbing 6.27%. Other softs did not match the performance of coffee and sugar, as cocoa rose 0.09%, and cotton fell 0.57%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Petra Ilona Zacek not only held onto her lead, but extended it, closing Friday with a YTD net return of 174.8%. Former leader Jan Smolen managed to remain in 2nd place with a net return of 80%, followed closely by Paul Skarp at 76.9%.

The remaining two spots on the top 5 were again a point of contention, as 5 different traders occupied those two spots throughout the week. Miroslav Gnatovic began the week in the top 5, before being overtaken by Kurt Sakaeda on Wednesday. Adrian Koemel joined them, holding a space on the leaderboard for 8 straight trading days going into Friday. It was newcomer Saik Wai Chang, however, who took over 4th place to close the week, finishing with a net return of 61.8%, followed by Fabien Fischer in 5th with a net return of 60%.

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Weekly Market Recap – October 12th, 2018

In the Markets

Volatility made a return to equity markets last week, as the three major indices all saw significant moves down, as they posted their largest losses since March. The combination of factors that had been hanging over the markets for some time, including rising interest rates and U.S.-China trade tensions, finally seemed to have an effect on investors, as the declines began on Wednesday and did not stabilize until Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.2%, the S&P 500 dropped 4.1%, and the NASDAQ lost 3.7% on the week.

While the losses were substantial, all three major indices retained their YTD gains. The International Monetary Fund, however, cut its 2018 and 2019 global growth outlook from 3.9% to 3.7% this week, citing numerous trade uncertainties. Chief among these concerns has been the relationship between the U.S. and China, which will look for a potential G-20 summit meeting between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month.

In response to the correction in equities and rising interest rates, gold futures posted 1.36% gains on the week. Silver fell 0.1%, but platinum rose 1.88%.

On news of weakening demand, oil futures finally ended their bullish streak, with WTI crude falling 4.04% and Brent crude dropped 4.34%. Gasoline futures saw a significant decline, falling 6.91%, while heating oil futures fell 2.97%. Natural gas futures remained positive, albeit much cooler than recent growth, up 0.57%.

Softs displayed large upward swings across the board. Cotton climbed 2.98%, and sugar rallied 3.48%, but it was cocoa and coffee futures that posted the largest gains, up 6.72% and 6.98% respectively.
Smaller moves were posted in soybeans and grains, with soybeans down 0.17%, wheat down 0.72%, and corn climbing 1.49%.

World Cup Trading Championships

The WCTC felt the impacts of U.S. equity market declines reverberate throughout the leaderboard, as the top 5 saw the most shifts within one week in the entire year. The rankings remained mostly unchanged through Monday and Tuesday, outside of newcomer Miroslav Gnatovic of Serbia making his first appearance by finishing in 5th on Monday with a net return of 59.7%.

With Wednesday and Thursday brought significant shuffling, as Petra Ilona Zacek took first place for the first time all year, finishing the week at 125.6%, ending Jan Smolen’s 100 day reign atop the leaderboard. Jan Smolen fell to 95.1% on the year, but managed to hold onto second place. Paul Skarp remained in 3rd place with a net return of 91.4%.

Adrian Koemel returned to the top 5, and ended the week in 4th at 59.2%. 5th place was held by Fabien Fischer through Wednesday and Thursday, but it was Archie Ma of Hong Kong who made his first appearance in the top 5, closing the week with a net return of 54.5%.

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Weekly Market Recap – October 5th, 2018

In the Markets

The markets opened with substantial developments as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was finalized to replace NAFTA with Canada and the U.S. agreeing to terms. While tensions eased between members of North America, they once again grew between the U.S. and China as the pending trade fallout looms over investors.

The September employment report showed 134,000 jobs added on the month, with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.7% as hourly wages increased by 2.8%. U.S. equity markets displayed a lot of volatility, as they reacted to a variety of trade news, sending the market volatility index climbing to end the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished flat on the week, while the S&P 500 dropped 1% and the NASDAQ fell 3.2% on the week, despite having a strong start to the quarter at the beginning of the week.

The yield on the 10-year treasury note reached a seven year high as it surpassed 3.2% this week on the back of an economy that continues to strengthen. This combined with increased wage growth points to further interest rate hikes from the Fed.
With a bullish cocktail of news for the USD, gold futures still showed growth, climbing 0.79% on the week. Silver, on the other hand, saw a 0.43% loss. Palladium also posted a loss, falling 1.46%, while platinum rose 0.26%.

Energy markets furthered their streak of gains, with WTI and Brent crude moving in tandem, up 1.49% and 1.5% respectively. Heating Oil posted a gain as well, up 1.87%, while gasoline finished almost flat, moving up just 0.02%. Natural gas posted another strong week, up 4.49%.

Softs had two of the top performers on the week, with coffee rising 6.34%, while sugar skyrocketed 12.77%. Soybeans climbed 2.78%, corn rose 3.37%, and wheat gained 2.36%.

World Cup Trading Championships

While Jan Smolen continued his first place run into the fourth quarter, the other positions in the top 5 displayed substantial shuffling. Smolen finished with a net return of 213.2%, as 2nd, 3rd, and 4th were up for grabs throughout the week as Paul Skarp, Kurt Sakaeda, and Petra Ilona Zacek battled for positioning.

When the dust settled, it was Paul Skarp who regained 2nd place as he closed the gap on Smolen with a net return of 121.3%. Petra, who temporarily climbed as high as second place, finished in 3rd with a net return of 108.3%. Kurt Sakaeda dropped to 4th place with a net return of 77%. Graeme Adams relinquished 5th place during the week to Fabien Fischer and Adrian Koemel, but regained his spot before the week closed out with a 59.2% return.

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Weekly Market Recap – September 28th, 2018

In the Markets

As the 3rd quarter came to an end, it proved to be the strongest since 2013 for U.S. equity markets. Strong earnings growth combined with sub 4% unemployment and positive consumer confidence have maintained the bull market despite continued trade tensions. While the quarter was strong, the last week of September saw all three major indices fall, with the Dow Jones down 1.1%, the S&P 500 down 0.5%, and the NASDAQ down 0.3%.

This decline can in-part be attributed to the interest rate hike made by the Fed, bringing the federal funds rate to its highest level in 10 years. With the rising interest rates, U.S. dollar index futures rose by 1% on the week.

With the strengthening USD, gold futures fell 0.42%. Silver futures, however, posted a very strong week climbing 2.46%. Platinum fell 1.11% on the week.

Oil futures, both WTI and Brent, again posted gains on the week, rising 3.49% and 5.88% respectively, marking a net gain in the 3rd quarter as November sanctions against Iran loom on the horizon. Heating oil and gasoline futures also posted gains on the week, up 5.29% and 4.18% respectively. While it cooled off from its explosive gain last week, natural gas futures still maintained an upward trajectory, rising 1% on the week to a new high.

Soybeans, corn, and wheat all corrected down on the week. Soybeans and corn both fell slightly with soybeans falling 0.21% and corn dropping 0.28%, while wheat’s drop was more dramatic, falling 2.44%.

Softs saw some large downward moves: sugar fell 4.11%, cocoa dropped 5.08%, and cotton posted a 3.49% decline. Coffee broke from the other soft commodities, gaining 2.55% on the week.

World Cup Trading Championships

All 5 members of the top 5 remained the same through the entire week, with the only positional change coming on Tuesday when Kurt Sakaeda regained 3rd place passing Petra Ilona Zacek and finishing the week with a net return of 98.5%, less than half a percent behind second place trader Paul Skarp at 98.9%. Petra held onto fourth place with a net return of 85.9%, while Graeme Adams again rounded out the top 5, finishing the week with a net return of 62.1%.

Jan Smolen not only held onto first place yet again, but extended his lead, gaining 22% on the week to finish at 222.7%, just over 10% under his high for the year. Smolen will look to expand his lead moving forward, as his return is over twice that of any other trader in the top 5 as we move into the 4th quarter.

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Weekly Market Recap – September 21st, 2018

In the Markets

The months of promised tariffs against China materialized into reality on Tuesday, as the United States put in place a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, with a raise to 25% in four months if China does not sit down at the negotiating table. Beijing has announced plans to retaliate with 5-10% tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, to which President Trump has threatened an additional $267 billion worth of tariffs.

Despite the trade news, equity markets responded positively on Tuesday, continuing through the week as the Dow Jones closed up 2.3%, and the S&P 500 rose 0.8%. Chinese large-cap stocks posted gains on the week as well. The NASDAQ, however, fell 0.3% on the week.

U.S. Dollar Index December futures fell 0.75%, as platinum and silver reacted inversely, climbing 3.88% and 1.53% respectively. Palladium gained for the week, rising 7.67%, while gold futures performed sluggishly, rising only 0.02%.

WTI Crude and Brent Crude both rose this week, with WTI futures rising 2.95% to break $70/bbl, while Brent futures climbed 0.82%. Gasoline rose 2.05% and heating oil rose 0.83%, but natural gas was the top performer in energy, gaining 7.59% on the week.

Soybeans and grains all rose, with corn rising 1.56%, wheat climbing 2%, and soybeans increasing 2.02%.

Copper was another top performer on the week, gaining 7.99% on the week, driven by its largest one-day gain since 2013 on Friday.

World Cup Trading Championships

Jan Smolen remained in first place for the 86th straight trading day, breaking the 200% net return mark as he finished at 200.2%, up over 22% on the week. Paul Skarp held onto second place finishing the week at 107.5%, but hot on his heels was Petra Ilona Zacek, who gained 50% on the week to finish in 3rd place with a net return of 107.3%, bumping Kurt Sakaeda down to 4th.

Sakaeda posted a strong week, finishing at 90.6%. 5th place was retaken by Graeme Adams midweek, who ended with a net return of 56.9%.

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Weekly Market Recap – September 14th, 2018

In the Markets

Despite recent tensions regarding tariffs, the major indices rebounded last week as the U.S. and China have agreed to a new round of trade negotiations. On this news, as well as strong performance from the tech sector, the Dow Jones rose 0.9%, the S&P 500 climbed 1.2%, and the NASDAQ increased by 1.4%.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for August were both released this week, showing weaker inflation, quelling fears that the Fed would increase interest rates at a more aggressive rate. The Fed is still expected to raise rates by 25 basis points at the end of September. The European Central Bank, and the Bank of England both kept their interest rates unchanged at policy meetings last week, while the Turkish central bank increased its rates to 24% in an attempt to stabilize the Lira.

The inverse movement that began the week prior between WTI and Brent crude futures continued, but flipped, as WTI Crude rose 1.83% through the 14th, and Brent crude fell 2.35%. Gasoline futures finished almost even on the week, only moving up 0.01%, as hurricane Florence hit the Carolina coast. Heating oil futures dropped 0.41% on the week.

The USDA released the September WASDE report, as corn dropped sharply 4.16%, and soybeans fell 1.6%. CBOT wheat stopped its steep slide down, moving up 0.05%.

USD index futures fell 0.46%, sending gold up slightly, by 0.06%. Platinum rose more sharply, up 2.33%, while silver fell 0.2%.

World Cup Trading Championships

Jan Smolen climbed sharply on the week, up almost 25% to a net return of 178%, his highest total return since June 26th. Paul Skarp managed to hold onto second place again, finishing the week at 105.4%. Kurt Sakaeda made a strong push for second, up 10% on the week through Thursday, before finishing in third at 86.5%.

Petra Ilona Zacek returned to the top 5, and held onto 4th place for the entire week finishing at 57.8%. Graeme Adams had a blip on Wednesday, before being overtaken again by Adrian Koemel, who held 5th place for 4 out of 5 trading days, closing at 51.5%.

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Weekly Market Recap – September 7th, 2018

In the Markets

The effects of low level negotiations between Chinese and U.S. officials became apparent as the Trump administration announced intentions to place tariffs on all Chinese goods imported into the United States. Two of the big three indices reacted strongly as the S&P 500 dropped 1%, and the NASDAQ plummeted 2.6% on the back of tech selloffs. The Dow Jones made it through the week only falling 0.2%.

The employment report showed 201,000 jobs added in August, with the unemployment rate remaining at 3.9%. Wages, which have continually shown slow growth despite a tight jobs market, rose $0.10 in August. With further Fed rate hikes on the horizon, the USD strengthened on the week, sending precious metals down, with gold, platinum, and silver dropping 0.52%, 0.85%, and 2.66% respectively.

The two highest volume crude oil contracts went in separate directions this week, as WTI futures dropped 2.94%, but Brent futures rose 2.93%. With the long weekend marking the end of summer traveling, gasoline futures dropped 1.35%. Heating oil fell 1.11%. Soybeans held flat, only moving up 0.06%, while corn rose 0.55%. CBOT wheat made a dramatic move, falling 6.28% on grim export prospects. The biggest moves in soft commodities were shown by sugar’s 3.87% rise, and cocoa’s 3.3% fall.

World Cup Trading Championships

The top 3 continued their reign, as once again the week ended with Jan Smolen on top, followed by Paul Skarp and Kurt Sakaeda. The top two both climbed over 12%, with Smolen finishing at 154.6% and Skarp closing at 129%. Kurt Sakaeda, who has held onto 3rd place for 16 straight trading days, finished the week at 81.3%.

The rest of the leaderboard began in the hands of Graeme Adams in 4th and Adrian Koemel in 5th place. Petra Ilona Zacek temporarily regained a foothold in 5th place on Wednesday’s close, until Koemel vaulted back into 4th place by weeks end with a net return of 51.5%. Koemel was joined by Ryan Alderson, who made his first top 5 posting with a return of 43.4%.

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Weekly Market Recap – August 31st, 2018

In the Markets

On Monday the U.S. and Mexico reached a bilateral trade deal as former NAFTA members have turned to separate trade discussions. Similar negotiations between the U.S. and Canada did not reach an agreement by weeks end, but plan on resuming talks in September. The trade news sent U.S. equities climbing higher, with the S&P 500 returning to all-time-high territory, up 0.9%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 0.7%. The NASDAQ was the best performer of the big three indices, posting a 2.1% gain.

Oil continued its increase from last week, with WTI futures climbing 1.57% through the last week of August, and Brent rising 2.08%. Precious metals, however, fell on the week, with gold down 0.54%, silver down 2.27%, and platinum down 0.29%.

Copper fell 1.37% on the week, and soybeans fell another 1.37%. Grains rebounded last week’s steep drop, with corn climbing 0.62% and wheat gaining 1.96%.

As the summer winds down, commodities markets will continue to eye the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, as the U.S. will look to move forward on the planned tariffs on $200 billion worth of exports.

World Cup Trading Championships

The top three showed little movement last week, as Jan Smolen remained in first place with a net return of 142.3%, followed by Paul Skarp at 116.5%, and Kurt Sakaeda at 89.1%. All three traders climbed to start the week, before falling slightly going into the three day weekend.

The final two spots shuffled between Fabian Fischer, Petra Ilona Zacek, and Graeme Adams, all remaining within 5% of one another. Fischer ended on top with a net return of 55.5%, followed by Adams at 51.6%.

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Weekly Market Recap – August 24th, 2018

In the Markets

In a week light with commodities news, the USD strengthened through the 15th before dropping off to end the week, with dollar index futures falling 0.96% on the week. Low level trade discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials were uneventful, leaving the world to wait for future meetings between leaders of the two economic superpowers.

Oil posted a strong rally this week, with WTI and Brent Crude futures both exceeding 5% increases on the week. Gasoline and heating oil both also increased, up 4.84% and 4.99% respectively, while natural gas fell 0.98%.

Despite a strong dollar and further fed rate hikes on the horizon, precious metals saw gains this week, with gold leading the charge up 2.46% as December futures break the $1,200/oz. level.

Soybeans and Corn both fell 4.2% on the week, while wheat plummeted on technical selling and weak export demand, falling 8.16%.

Race for the Bull & Bear

The top three remained the same throughout the week, as Jan Smolen, Paul Skarp, and Kurt Sakaeda maintained the same positions from the 17th. Jan Smolen posted a 15% rally, reaching an August net return high of 145.9%. Paul Skarp finished in second behind Smolen with a net return of 118.3%, while Kurt Sakaeda finished in 3rd up 6% to 94.5%.

The final two spots were once again very contentious. The week began with Carlos Eisenberg in 4th, and Adrian Koemel in 5th, but that changed on Thursday when Petra Ilona Zacek took 4th followed by Graeme Adams in 5th. Graeme’s stint was short lived, as Fabien Fischer made his return to the top 5 by ending the week with a net return of 54.8%, while Petra held onto 4th place with her net return of 65.1%, rallying 15% in one day.

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Weekly Market Recap – August 10th, 2018

In the Markets

The Turkish lira plunged last week amidst rising inflation and tensions driven by rising global interest rates. The lira fell to record lows as the nation sits on the precipice of financial crisis. The lira freefall led to ripple effects across a variety of markets, including the euro, which neared a year low verses the USD.

Inversely, the USD continued to show strength this week. Dollar Index futures approached highs since June 2017 as contracts broke consensus technical resistance as it breached the 96 level. The USD may maintain this strength as interest rates are projected to continue to rise, and the euro faces further weakness as the Turkish lira fallout continues to unfold.

U.S. equity markets showed diverse reactions, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6%, and the S&P 500 fell 0.2%, while the NASDAQ climbed 0.3% and the Russell 2000 rose 0.8%.

Oil futures continued their downward trend, as Brent Crude fell 0.56%, and WTI Crude futures reached $67.3/bbl, down 1.26% on the week.

The August World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates were published this week by the USDA, revealing bearish indicators for grains due to ample production and trade issues surrounding markets. Soybeans, corn, and wheat all fell in response to the news, down 4.49%, 3.25%, and 1.17% respectively.

Race for the Bear & Bull

Jan Smolen continued to hold the top spot this week, climbing 12% on the week to finish with a net return of 141% on the year. Paul Skarp, who had sat in 4th place since July 20th, reclaimed 2nd to close last week, ending with a net return of 91% on August 10th. Third and fourth place were held by Kurt Sakaeda and Carlos Eisenberg, with the two separated by just over 1%, with Sakaeda at 90.8%, and Eisenberg at 89.3%.

The week began with the top 5 rounded out by Fabien Fischer, but 5th place was clinched by a newcomer to the leaderboard to close the week, as Adrian Koemel joined the WCTC leaders for the first time this year, closing the week with a net return of 51.5%.

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Weekly Market Recap – August 17th, 2018

In the Markets

After a breakdown in discussions two months ago shifting the focus to retaliatory tariffs, U.S. and China trade negotiations reopened last week. Reported meetings between low-level officials are setting up a scheduled meeting between President Trump and President Xi in November. Additionally, after inducing panic surrounding the possibility of a financial crisis, the Turkish Lira rebounded, climbing back 6.1% on the week after sliding to a new all-time low against the dollar on Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 1.4% on this batch of news, while the S&P 500 rose 0.6%, and the tech heavy NASDAQ dropped 0.3%.

The Escondida copper mine in Chile avoided a strike as union representatives signed a contract on Friday. With the world’s largest copper mine avoiding paralysis, copper futures prices plummeted 4.14% as the globe avoids potential supply shortage.

Crude oil dropped this week, with WTI falling 2.76% and Brent futures down 1.47%. Gasoline and heating oil futures also both dropped on the week, down 2.27% and 2.15% respectively.

Grains rallied this week, with wheat climbing 2.51%, and corn rising 1.88%. Soybeans posted a similar performance, rising 3.6%. Precious metals, on the other hand, all faced a bearish week, with gold falling 2.85%, silver dropping 4.34%, and platinum falling sharply 6.3%.

Race for the Bear & Bull

Paul Skarp continued his rebound back into the top of the leaderboard, completing his rally by returning to first place on Wednesday for the first time since May 21st. After conceding first place for the 15th and 16th, Jan Smolen took back the top spot to close the week, ending Friday at 129%. Paul Skarp maintained his rally, however, finishing the week in second place at a net return of 127.5%, only 1.5% behind Smolen.

Kurt Sakaeda finished in 3rd at 88.4%, followed by Carlos Eisenberg in 4th at 56.3%, with the top 5 rounded out by Michael Cook with a net return of 45.9%.

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Weekly Market Recap – August 10th, 2018

In the Markets

The Turkish lira plunged last week amidst rising inflation and tensions driven by rising global interest rates. The lira fell to record lows as the nation sits on the precipice of financial crisis. The lira freefall led to ripple effects across a variety of markets, including the euro, which neared a year low verses the USD.

Inversely, the USD continued to show strength this week. Dollar Index futures approached highs since June 2017 as contracts broke consensus technical resistance as it breached the 96 level. The USD may maintain this strength as interest rates are projected to continue to rise, and the euro faces further weakness as the Turkish lira fallout continues to unfold.

U.S. equity markets showed diverse reactions, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6%, and the S&P 500 fell 0.2%, while the NASDAQ climbed 0.3% and the Russell 2000 rose 0.8%.

Oil futures continued their downward trend, as Brent Crude fell 0.56%, and WTI Crude futures reached $67.3/bbl, down 1.26% on the week.

The August World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates were published this week by the USDA, revealing bearish indicators for grains due to ample production and trade issues surrounding markets. Soybeans, corn, and wheat all fell in response to the news, down 4.49%, 3.25%, and 1.17% respectively.

Race for the Bear & Bull

Jan Smolen continued to hold the top spot this week, climbing 12% on the week to finish with a net return of 141% on the year. Paul Skarp, who had sat in 4th place since July 20th, reclaimed 2nd to close last week, ending with a net return of 91% on August 10th. Third and fourth place were held by Kurt Sakaeda and Carlos Eisenberg, with the two separated by just over 1%, with Sakaeda at 90.8%, and Eisenberg at 89.3%.

The week began with the top 5 rounded out by Fabien Fischer, but 5th place was clinched by a newcomer to the leaderboard to close the week, as Adrian Koemel joined the WCTC leaders for the first time this year, closing the week with a net return of 51.5%.

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Weekly Market Recap – August 3rd, 2018

In the Markets

Interest rates remained unchanged following the Fed’s Wednesday meeting, although the central bank did change its description of the economy from solid to strong, possibly pointing to two additional rate hikes this year. The USD strengthened on the news, climbing 0.53% up to 94.961 on September futures. Gold continued its downward trend, reacting inversely to the strong USD, falling 0.76%.

The U.S. July employment report was published this week, revealing a gain of 157,000 jobs in July, pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.9%. While the increase in non-farm payroll positions was less than expected, June’s report was revised upward to 248,000 from 213,000. Wages, which have shown sluggish growth despite a tight labor market, increased 0.3%.

Copper dropped 1.37%, despite recent Union negotiations bringing Chile’s Escondida mine workers closer to a strike.

Crude oil fell, with WTI futures falling 0.29%, and Brent futures dropping at a much steeper rate, down 1.94%. Trade tension escalations between the U.S. and China sent China’s Shanghai Composite falling 4.6%, while U.S. markets remained resilient, as the Dow Jones finished even, the S&P 500 rose 0.8%, and the NASDAQ climbed a single percentage point. Grains also responded in a bullish fashion this week, with soybeans rising 1.92%, corn climbing 2.13%, and wheat roaring higher, up 4.85%.

Smolen Rallies, Holding Off Challengers

Carlos Eisenberg started the week by taking over first place to close on Monday, rallying to 119%. His stint on top was short lived, as Jan Smolen gained 20% on the week to finish back in first place with a net return of 129.5%. Eisenberg finished in second with a net return of 114.6%, followed by Kurt Sakaeda in third with a return of 98.2%. Paul Skarp remained in fourth with a net return of 81.4%. The final spot on the leaderboard shuffled between three traders this week, as Michael Cook and Takumaru Sakakibara battled for a position in the top 5. It was Fabian Fischer, however, who ended the week in fifth place with a net return of 46.7%.

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Weekly Market Recap – July 27th, 2018

In the Markets

The U.S. GDP posted a 4.1% growth in the second quarter, the strongest performance since 2014. While this increase could be attributed to foreign companies buying U.S. goods before potential tariffs are put in place, domestic contributors to GDP also posted gains; consumer spending rose 4%, while business investment has risen 9.4% over the first two quarters.

Tariff tensions between the U.S. and Europe eased as negotiations resulted in a halt of additional retaliatory tariffs, as well unspecified plans for an increase American soybeans and natural gas sales to the EU. In response, both commodity futures posted strong gains, with November soybean futures rising 2.37%, and September natural gas climbing 1.79%. Corn and wheat also performed positively, raising 1.96% and 2.81% respectively.

Iran remains crucial to global oil prices, putting the U.S’s relationship at the center of crude markets. Not only is Iran a dominate oil producer, but they also hold the Strait of Hormuz which separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman, which 20% of global crude oil passes through every day. WTI crude futures showed limited response, only gaining 0.63%, while Brent crude futures rose 1.66% on the week.

Gold fell 0.66%, and silver dropped 0.36%, while the Dollar Index acted inversely, climbing 0.25% on the week.

The Dow Jones rallied 1.6% this week on the back of the strong GDP results and easing trade tensions, while the S&P 500 rose 0.6%. The NASDAQ did not fare as well as the other indices, falling 1.1% on the week.

The Spread Narrows

Only 6.5% separated first from third at the close of last week’s trading: Jan Smolen maintained his hold on first place, closing the week at 109.4%, but right on his heals was Carlos Eisenberg, who finished the week at 106.2%. In third place is, within striking distance of first with a year to date net return of 103% was Kurt Sakaeda.

Paul Skarp finished up 3% from last week to close at 83.7%, enough to remain in 4th place. The top 5 was again rounded out by Takumaru Sakakibara with a net return of 42.4%.

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Weekly Market Recap – July 20th, 2018

In the Markets

Grains rebounded from last week’s steep drop off, as soybeans recovered 3.66%, corn climbed 4.02%, and wheat rose 3.82%. Oil fell again, with WTI futures down 1.83%, and Brent Crude futures falling 2.81%.

Precious metals fell this week, with gold down 0.81% and silver down 1.68%. Platinum had a better week, but still dropped 0.1%. In a rare joint movement, the dollar index also fell on the week down 0.29%.

The major stock indices showed little net movement this last week. The Dow Jones showed the best performance, up 0.2%, the S&P 500 finished flat on the week, while the NASDAQ fell 0.1%. The Russell 2000 outperformed all three, gaining 0.6%.

Sakaeda Challenges for First, Smolen Finishes Ahead

On Thursday Kurt Sakaeda finally finished atop the leaderboard, vaulting himself above Jan Smolen, becoming the first trader outside of Smolen and Skarp to claim the top spot this year. Smolen rallied on Friday, however, reclaiming first place and finishing the week with a net return of 131.95%. Kurt Sakaeda finished in second with a net return of 116.43, while Carlos Eisenberg rallied to break into the top 3 for the first time this year, breaking the 100% mark for the first time this year, closing at 101.81%. Paul Skarp finished in fourth at 80.7%, and Takumaru Sakakibara rounded out the top 5 again with a net return of 43.62%.

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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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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 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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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 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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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 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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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 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
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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.