Rollovers, Changes, and Other Housekeeping

The ‘To Do’ List

As we are about to close out the month and the first half of 2017, the IMC blog has a few spread positions that need to be rolled out to the more distant month contracts.  Also, there are current outstanding parameters for new trade positions that need to be adjusted and/or changed to longer-dated contracts.  For brevity’s sake, we’re gonna take care of all of this housekeeping in one single post instead of issuing multiple posts.

Rollovers

The blog entered a short position in the July Grain Basket spread (short one July soybean contract, long one July wheat contract, and long one July corn contract) at the equivalent of +$2.01 1/2 (premium beans) on February 13th.  Exit this spread and simultaneously enter a short position in the September Grain Basket spread (short one September soybean contract, long one September wheat contract, and long one September corn contract) at the market-on-close on Wednesday, June 28th.

The blog entered a short position in the July sugar/corn spread (short one July sugar contract and long one July corn contract) at the equivalent of +$3,025.80 (premium sugar) on February 13th and short an ‘add-on’ July sugar/corn spread at -$899.10 (premium corn) on April 26th.  Exit these spreads and simultaneously enter short positions in the Oct-Sep sugar/corn spread (short one October sugar contract and long one September corn contract) at the market-on-close on Wednesday, June 28th.

Parameter Changes

Last year, the IMC blog experimented with a value investing strategy known as scale trading.  We applied this strategy to the copper(x2)/gold spread in the second half of the year.  The trade campaign payed off as it netted a profit of nearly $72,000 in just under four months.  Therefore, we left standing orders in place to reenter if the spread returned to the qualifying price levels.

Currently, the blog is working orders to scale trade the December 2017 copper(x2)/gold spread.  We are going to change this to the July-June 2018 contracts in order to give ourselves lots and lots of time.  Therefore, the blog will cancel the current orders in the December 2017 spread and replace it with new orders to buy the July-June 2018 copper(x2)/gold spread (long two July copper contracts and short one June gold contract) on a close at -$5k or less, buy another one on a close at -$10k or less, buy another one on a close at -$15k or less, etc.  The purchase intervals are set every $5k lower.  Every position is to be liquidated on a close that is $5k or higher than the interval purchase level.  Note that the liquidation targets are based on the scale intervals, not the actual purchase price.  This means that any better-than-expected purchase prices will result in even bigger profits when it is finally liquidated.

Also, the blog has been working a hypothetical order to short the September copper/crude oil spread.  Cancel the parameters for the September contracts and replace it with new orders to short a December copper/crude oil spread (short December copper and long December crude oil) on a close below +$18k (premium copper).  If filled, liquidate the position on a two-consecutive day close above the contract high that precedes the entry (currently at $22,265).

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Grain Basket: Roll to the Summer Spreads

Stay Short

The IMC blog entered a short position in the May Grain Basket spread (the difference between the price of one May soybean contract and the sum of one May wheat contract and one May corn contract) at +$2.16 (premium beans) on February 13th.

With the upcoming First Notice Day for the May grain contracts, we are going to roll to the July contracts.

July Grain Basket spread daily

July Grain Basket spread daily

After cracking support at the rising 100-day Moving Average in February, the Grain Basket slumped to multi-month lows.  It has rebounded over the last couple of weeks, but the now declining 100-day MA should provide technical resistance and cap the rally.

The April 11th multi-month low of $1.29 1/2 sets near-term price support.  A break below this price should clear the way for a collision with the psychological one dollar mark.  If the July Grain Basket does hit a new low for 2017 the blog will be watching closely to see if a setup materializes that would allow for an additional ‘add-on’ short sale to take advantage of the continued descent.

Trade Strategy:

Exit the short May soybean contract, long May wheat contract, and long May corn contract and simultaneously sell  short a short July soybean contract, buy a July wheat contract, and buy a July corn contract at the market-on-close on Tuesday, April 25th.  Risk the July grain basket spread to a two-day close above +$2.80. 

 

Feeder/Corn Spread: Roll To Aug and Sep Contracts

Near-Term Price “Cattle-yst” At Hand?!

The IMC blog has been holding a short position in the feeder/corn (x4) spread since September 6th.  Due to rollovers, the blog is currently short the April-May spread from the equivalent of -$9,912.50 (premium corn).

April-May Feeders Corn (x4) spread daily

April-May Feeders Corn (x4) spread daily

The spread is currently a stone’s throw from the contract high.  We’re hoping for a double top.  If it blasts thru to new contract highs, however, it would be prudent to take our lumps and get out.

Today we are going to roll out to the August-September spread.  Neither the April-May spread nor the Aug-Sep spread has ever closed with the value of the feeder contract at a premium over corn.  If that happens, it will be our signal to exit stage right.

Feeders Corn (x4) spread weekly

Feeders Corn (x4) spread weekly

A breakout above the even money level could allow this spread to race toward last summer’s high of +$10,087.50 (premium feeders).  If the run doesn’t stop there, who’s to say it can’t double the premium and reach +$20k?!

Also, the feeder/corn ratio is currently sitting just below 4:1.  A breakout above even money for the spread would mean that the feeder/corn ratio has exceeded 4:1.  If that occurs, the odds increase that the ratio will head for the next handle at 5:1.

Feeders Corn ratio weekly

Feeders Corn ratio weekly

Heck, it could even go higher than that.  If that happens, we will adjust the ratio of the spread to get closer to dollar neutral and look for a setup to get short on a reversal.  As you can see on the forty-year weekly chart, a ratio of 5:1 or higher does not come around very often.

Trade Strategy:

Buy back the short 50,000 lb. April feeder cattle contract and simultaneously sell short an August feeder cattle contract at the market-on-close on Tuesday, April 25th.  Also, sell the four 5,000 bushel May corn contracts and simultaneously buy four 5,000 bushel September corn contracts at the market-on-close on Tuesday, April 25th.  Risk the Aug-Sep feeder/corn (x4) spread to a two-day close above even money.

 

Platinum/Gold Spread: Roll to Halloween Contracts

The Long Road

The blog is holding an unleveraged April platinum/gold spread from the equivalent of -$206.30 (premium gold).  It was originally entered in September of 2015.  Boy, it’s been a looooong year and a half.

Leveraged was briefly added in April 2016, but the ‘add-on’ investment position was liquidated just a couple of months later.  This was because the uptrend failed to materialize.

This unleveraged spread position is experimental as it deviates from our normal trading rules of getting in and then exiting if there is an adverse move.  The idea was that a mean reverting commodity spread at record lows (it hit an all-time low of -$343.30 on June 27th and then nearly matched it on October 21st when it traded to -$337.30) with a confirmation on the ratio (it registered a thirty-three year low of 0.7335:1 on October 21st) would be a temporary event.

Platinum Gold spread (nearest-futures) daily

Platinum Gold spread (nearest-futures) daily

Furthermore, platinum has been priced at a discount to gold for a record two years and two and a half months, which is substantially longer than the prior record inversion streak of one year and seven months (September 1981 and April 1983).  In terms of both price and time, the historic extremes argue that a major reversion is long overdue.

The $64,000 question, of course, is “when will it finally happen?!”

Until we get more clarity on the situation, we remain unleveraged on the position.  But once a breakout above -$200 takes place, we’ll pay closer attention.  When that happens, it will time for a challenge of the 2016 high at -$161.20.  If this hurdle is cleared, the odds are pretty good that this record bear market is finally over.  Until then, we’ll patiently roll the contracts and bide our time.

Investment Strategy:

For tracking purposes, the blog will liquidate the long April platinum/gold spread investment position and simultaneously enter a long investment position in the October platinum/gold spread at the market-on-close on Tuesday, March 28th.  There are currently no liquidation parameters for this low-leverage position.  Factoring in the results of one ‘add-on’ investment position, the bankroll for this spread is currently $101,920.

Bund/BOBL Spread: Roll to June

Thinking About Summer

The IMC blog is holding a short position in the March Bund/BOBL spread that was entered at the equivalent of 31.93 on October 10th.  March contracts expire soon, so we’re going to roll to the June contracts.

The June spread closed at 28.94 on Friday, which is nearly a one and a quarter point discount to the March spread.  This puts the new spread right at a support zone on the weekly nearest-futures chart between the December and January lows of 28.91 and 29.09, respectively.  Once this support level is broken, there is nothing to stop the Bund/BOBL spread from descending to the next technical support level at a weekly Fibonacci .618 retracement at 26.13 (as measured between the 2015 low and the 2016 high.

euro-bund-euro-bobl-spread-weekly

Euro Bund Euro BOBL spread weekly

If the spread does not end its decline somewhere around this important support level, it may try to replicate the 9.40-point decline from last year’s record high.  If so, the next downside target will be at 24.74.

Trade Strategy:

Exit the hypothetical short March Bund/BOBL spread and simultaneously enter a short June Bund/BOBL spread at the market-on-close on Monday, March 6th. 

Cocoa/Sugar Spread: Roll to May Contracts

The Bear Continues

The IMC blog has been on a short sale campaign in the cocoa/sugar spread for nearly seventeen months.  Thanks to the initial position and some ‘add-ons’ we picked up, the blog is short a March cocoa/sugar spread from the equivalent of +$21,866 (premium cocoa), short a second March cocoa/sugar spread from the equivalent of +$18,509.80 (premium cocoa), short a third March cocoa/sugar spread from the equivalent of +$15,300.40 (premium cocoa), and short a fourth March cocoa/sugar spread from the equivalent of +$1,550.40 (premium cocoa).

The bear market remains in full force, so we will remain short.  Currently, it will take a two-consecutive day close above the declining 100-day Moving Average to tell us that the trend has changed and prompt us to take the money and run.  That hasn’t happened since last April.

cocoa-sugar-spread-nearest-futures-daily

Cocoa Sugar spread (nearest-futures) daily

Furthermore, we are waiting to see what happens if/when the spread drops to -$4,000 (premium sugar).  Prior bear markets in the cocoa/sugar spread ended after this level was reached and set the stage for bull markets.  That means we will start thinking about trading the long side of the cocoa/sugar spread if it makes down to this area.

Trade Strategy:

On the four March cocoa/sugar spreads entered at the equivalents of +$21,866, +$18,509.80, +$15,300.40, and +$1,550.40 (premium cocoa), roll to the May spreads at the market-on-close on Friday, February 24th.  Risk all four spreads to a two-consecutive day close above the declining 100-day Moving Average, basis the nearest-futures.  

 

T-bond/T-note Spread: Roll to the June Contracts

Waiting For the Next Shoe to Drop

The IMC blog initiated a short position in the March T-bond/T-note spread at 26-18 (premium bonds) on January 20th.  For the last month, we’ve had little to show for our efforts as the spread has remained range-bound.

However, the spread did flash a major bearish signal back in early October when it closed below the widely-watch 200-day Moving Average for the first time since the first week of 2016.  We felt that the right move was to get short once the rally off the December low started to fade.  We still think that.

t-bond-t-note-spread-50-and-200-mas-daily

T-bond T-note spread (50 and 200 MAs) daily

A breakout above the current trading range would be our signal to take a loss on this initial trade and get to the sidelines.  If that occurs, it would increase the possibility of a rally to resistance at the declining 200-day MA where we would watch for a setup to take another crack at it.  Until then, we simply stay short.

First Notice Day for the March treasury contracts is on Monday.  Therefore, we have to roll to the June contracts today in order to maintain our position.

Trade Strategy:

Liquidate the short March T-bond/T-note spread and simultaneously enter a short June T-bond/T-note spread at the market-on-close on Friday, February 24th.  Risk the June spread to a two-day close above 27-24.  

Feeder/Corn Spread: Time to Rollover

Staying the Course

The IMC blog is holding a short position in the March feeder/corn (x4) spread from the equivalent of -$8,487.50 (premium corn).  We’ve been in this position since September 6th and patiently rolling over.  It’s time to do it again.

The spread will be rolled to the April and May contracts.  Based on the current prices, this will end up readjusting our equivalent entry level to somewhere around -$9,700 (premium corn).

feeders-corn-x4-spread-weekly

Feeders Corn (x4) spread weekly

So is it worthwhile to stay short?  We think so.  As you can see on the weekly timeframe, near-term support is located at last year’s low of -$18,837.50 (premium corn).  A clean break below this level could clear the way for a decline to the 2012 high of -$31,612.50.  Remember the technical charting rule: Old price resistance, once it has been broken, becomes new price support.

Trade Strategy:

Buy back the short 50,000 lb. March feeder cattle contract and simultaneously sell short an April feeder cattle contract at the market-on-close on Friday, February 24th.  Also, sell the four 5,000 bushel March corn contracts and simultaneously buy four 5,000 bushel May corn contracts at the market-on-close on Friday, February 24th.  Risk the April-May feeder/corn (x4) spread to a two-day close above even money.

 

Copper/Crude Spread: Rollover Update

Overdue Update  

The IMC blog entered a short position in the March copper/crude oil spread at +$13,265 (premium copper) on December 1st.  We rolled to the May contracts at the market-on-close last Friday (February 17th) because Monday was the Last Trading Day for the crude contract.

Alas, I had a blog post all queued up for the rollover last Friday and forgot to send it!  If you have a decent broker, however, they should have given you notice that the March crude contract needed to be liquidated or rolled.

On February 17th, the March copper/crude oil spread closed at +$14,275 and the May copper/crude oil spread closed at +$13,880.  Therefore, the discounted price would put us in the May spread at the equivalent of +$12,870.

may-copper-crude-oil-spread-daily

May Copper Crude Oil spread daily

As a reminder to why the blog initiated a short position, it is because the nearest-futures copper/crude oil spread signaled a bearish trend change after peaking out at +$20,640 in late November.  Historically, prior runs to +$17,000 or higher have been followed by major bear markets that hammered the copper/crude oil spread down to where crude oil had a premium of $10,000 or more over the copper.  Therefore, this could be just the start of a major decline.  We will be watching for setups to add to the short position along the way.

Copper/Gold Spread: Stay Long For More Upside

Keep ‘Em Rollin’

Currently, the blog is holding a long position in the March-February copper(x2)/gold spread from the equivalent of -$22,700 (premium gold).  It was entered on September 29th.

We’re still happy with the position.  But with the February gold contract expiring on Friday and the First Notice Day for the March copper contract hitting next Tuesday, it’s time to roll out into the later contracts.  Since the summer spread (July-June) is only about $300 more than the spring spread (May-April), we’re going to opt for more time and hop into the summer spread.

Since peaking out just above +$17k (premium copper) on December 5th, the July-June copper(x2)/gold spread has been stuck in a trading range.  The spread clipped the December 5th high last week, but has retreated once again.  What we need to see is a sustained close above the early December/mid-February high to get the momentum going again.  If that happens, the spread will stay on track for a run to the resistance zone between the 2015 high of +$28,190 (premium copper) and the November 2014 high of +$34,380 (premium copper).

july-june-copper-gold-spread-daily

July June Copper Gold spread daily

But remember that we mentioned before that the ratio between copper and gold (currently around 0.56:1) indicates that the spread could go substantially higher than the 2014/2015 price peaks!  Historically, prior occurrences where two copper contracts traded equal to or at a discount to the value of one gold contract were followed by major bull markets.  Each one lasted until two copper contracts were valued at a minimum premium of 66% over the value of one gold contract.  That puts the ratio at 1.66:1.

To hit this minimum ratio target of 1.66:1, the copper(x2)/gold spread would have to soar to somewhere between roughly +$53k (if the current copper price remained the same) and roughly +$78k (if the current gold price remained the same).

Based on this history, we are watching the spread carefully to see if a setup materializes to add to the long position after a breakout above the current trading range.  We’ll keep you posted if that happens.  For now, though, let’s roll out to the summer contracts.

Trade Strategy:

Sell the two March copper contracts and simultaneously buy two July copper contracts at the market-on-close on Wednesday, February 22nd.  Also, buy back the one short February gold contract and simultaneously sell one June gold contract at the market-on-close on Wednesday, February 22nd.