We have been warning about China's speculative commodity trading bubble - spewing false signals around the world about the strength of the real economy - and now, as we suggested previously, Chinese authorities have decided to burst yet another bubble they created.Reuters reports that China's Securities regulator has ordered three major commodity exchanges to "control intraday speculation in commodity markets," ordering them to "curb trading for investors with no commodity industry background." Volume has crashed... and just as it did in the equity markets, price will follow.
Trading volumes in Chinese exchanges spiked exponentially, with SHFE rebar and DCE iron ore futures becoming the No.1 and No.3 most-traded contracts in the world, surpassing volumes of ICE Brent and NYMEX WTI contracts, which have been the most widely-traded and liquid contracts for three decades.
Silver had its biggest quarterly rise in nearly 30 years in the first three months of 2016 as ETF investors, buying of silver coins (now VAT free in UK and EU) and bars and speculators in the futures market pushed prices higher. Silver prices are likely to rise further as there is “supply trouble brewing” as strong industrial and investment demand are confronted by declining supply.
During the last week we have highlighted the frightening similarity between the speculative spike in China commodity trading (which has sent industrial metals prices soaring in yet another 'error' signal for real supply and demand) and the pump-n-dump in Chinese stocks. Specifically, as Goldman warns the factor that "concerns us the most is the increased speculation in the Chinese iron ore futures market," and now, as Bloomberg reports, it appears that bubble is bursting as Steel and Iron Ore prices tumble most in 21 months after Chinese exchanges raise margins in an attempt to curb speculation.
This is what Pioneer Natural Resources just said in its press release: "expecting to add five to ten horizontal drilling rigs when the price of oil recovers to approximately $50 per barrel and the outlook for oil supply/demand fundamentals is positive."
Does it smell the same as 2015’s A share market? But wait, the leverage in the commodities market (easily 10x) is much higher than that in the A share market (normally 2-4x). If the investors still remember the lesson in 2015, they should pay extra attention now. When the music stops, the collapse of price can be faster and steeper than the pace of going up. 2009 already showed us a real example in the Rebar market.
Less than three months following our warning about a "constant oil short squeeze", it is time to unveil the next warning: one of a potentially big drop in the oil price as now record speculative oil longs proceed to cover on the other side, unleashing a selling scramble lower.
Who’s afraid of the big bad bear? No one, it seems.
If asking traders where stocks and oil would be trading one day after a weekend in which the Doha OPEC meeting resulted in a spectacular failure, few if any would have said the S&P would be over 2,100, WTI would be back over $40 and the VIX would be about to drop to 12 and yet that is precisely where the the S&P500 is set to open today, hitting Goldman's year end target 8 months early, and oblivious of the latest batch of poor earnings news, this time from Intel and Netflix, both of which are sharply lower. We expect that after taking out any 2,100 stops, the S&P will then make a solid effort to take out all time highs, now just over 1% away.
Well, that didn't take long.
In a stunning victory for "conspiracy theorists" within the precious metals space, overnight Deutsche Bank not only agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing it of manipulating the silver fix, but also agreed to help the plaintiffs pursue similar claims against other banks as part of the settlement by providing instant messages and other communications. And so the former cartel members are turning on each other.
Volatility (VIX) is now at its lowest level since before the August sell-off last summer yet CS Fear Barometer remains elevated leaving the spread between the two options-market-based indicators is at its widest ever. With the VIX ETF complex accounting for a record 85% of the outstanding open interest in the VIX futures market, the tail and the dog are now wagging each other in increasingly unstable trends, as Goldman sums up, the options market seems to be questioning the quality of the rally and continues to price in more adverse outcomes.
Why continue this farce at all?
It is now official: as crude soared 50% since Feb. 11, Bloomberg writes, the number of bets on increased prices has barely budged. "Instead, the upward pressure on prices appears to have come from traders cashing out of bearish wagers at an unprecedented pace. The liquidation of short positions during the last seven weeks covered by data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission was the largest on record."
There appears to be two sure-fire ways to make money in these 'efficient' markets - Buy before The Fed speaks... or trade 'em after midnight. The so-called "pajama traders" may be on to something after all?