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Markets pause for breath as oil traders enjoy upstream volatility

There are some signs of a recovery in some markets, but the overall picture is still very quiet for what should be the seasonally strongest quarter of the year for the West.  Markets should also have been strong in Asia, in the run-up to this week’s Lunar New Year (LNY), but they have remained relatively […]

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Oil prices jump 20% in 2 days in SuperBowl weekend coup

An astonishing coup appears to have begun 10 days ago, in the last 45 minutes of trading in US oil markets.  Yet we still don’t know who master-minded it, or their full objectives.  . What happened to oil prices?  Prices jumped 8% in the last 45 minutes of trading on Friday 30 January, taking Brent to $53/bbl and […]

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August highlights

Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks.   As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook:  Great Unwinding of stimulus underway.  Q2 results show slowing growth.  US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]

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Oil prices break out of their triangle – downwards

The Great Unwinding of the central banks stimulus policies is underway, as discussed last week.  Oil markets have been one of the first to feel the change, as the chart shows, with prices finally falling out of the ‘triangle’ shape built up since 2008.  The value of the US$, interest rates and the S&P 500 […]

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US oil inventories hit record high as supply increases

Imagine that 5 years ago, you had been asked by your Board to forecast future oil prices.  And suppose you had prepared a forecast which said: Oil demand growth will slow in the West, as cars become more fuel-efficient and ageing populations drive less Demand growth in the emerging economies will be supported temporarily by real estate […]

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Oil prices vulnerable to China property market fall

Oil futures markets are a wonderful thing, in theory.  They are supposed to enable price discovery, whilst their liquidity is meant to enable companies to reduce inventory levels.  Instead of tying up working capital, they can simply go to the market and buy what they need, when they need it. But the chart above, of US oil […]

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Cotton prices slip as US supply rises and China’s imports fall

It seems that cotton prices are about to return to normal levels again.  The blog’s detailed discussion of the issues last September highlighted how current Chinese government policies seemed doomed to fail, at enormous cost to the wider world.  It now looks as though China’s new leadership agrees with this conclusion. Since late 2008, the previous leadership’s […]

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High-frequency trading continues to take markets higher

The blog was very pleased to see the Nobel Prize awarded jointly to Robert Shiller, whose words of wisdom on housing and stock markets it has cited many times. Shiller’s key insight, in his book Irrational Expectations and since, has been to confirm Ben Graham’s famous saying: “In the short term, the market is a […]

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Aluminium warehouse changes threaten caustic soda sales

Strong aluminium markets have provided great support to caustic soda producers in recent years.  PVC and construction markets have been weak, but volumes into aluminium mining have kept prices and overall chloralkali margins strong. Now this may be about to change.  As the blog noted in March, aluminium prices have been supported by the behaviour of […]

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Oil markets risk rapid repricing – Part 1

Since 1900, as the chart shows, oil prices have never been so high for so long as now. Until 2003, they had only been above $30/bbl for 4 years between 1979-1982, during the OPEC production cuts in the Iran crisis. But since 2004, they have been continuously above this level. The reason is the misguided […]

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