Editor’s note: This market commentary is provided by Dave Kurzawski, risk-management consultant with FC Stone/Downes-O’Neill, Chicago, Ill.
Speculative traders continue to shed long positions in commodities overnight on the news of a massive, record-breaking earth quake off the shores of Japan and the ensuing potential for tsunami damage is plastered on the news wires this morning. In the Middle East, tensions are heating up with protests in Saudi Arabia. Between natural and man-made disasters, speculators who normally welcome uncertainty are taking a different tact. Investors want to take their money and go home when it comes to many commodities and that is providing fresh selling almost regardless of other fundamental news.
Dairy futures tend to be insolated to some degree from vicious outside market activity, but the path of least resistance on Class III has been downward over the past week or so. We’ve had small bounces, but they have been taken as rallies to sell. Technical indicators are weak and prices are discounted. Look for a mixed trade early.
The talk is about a 20-cent decline on cheese. But just as no one knows where the top will be to the penny, be cautious about hopping on the $1.80 cheese bandwagon. Futures and cash markets often overshoot what seems clearly to be a reasonable price level. If we can get to $1.80 on cheese, we can get to $1.60 for even a short period of time.
Butter continues to be well-supported as the market remains tight. On the flip side, 22 loads of butter have exchanged hands here this week, so someone has butter and they’re willing to sell it. Furthermore, what looks firm today is vulnerable to change after we work through Easter orders. That is the risk going forward. Look for butter futures to trade mostly mixed early today.
So, the outlook from here is more short-term bearish, but longer term bullish for dairy prices. While we continue to see strong appetite for dairy products, expectations that such buying prowess can continue unabated may be short-sighted. Imbalances will likely continue throughout the year, but for now the markets feel softer than they were just a few weeks back.
Grains are open and their off their lows this morning, but speculators are looking to take profits or cut losses or just step aside. Keep in mind fundamentals are still tighter than normal state and will leave risk premium in the market until a more clear picture of yield and acres can be determined (June-July), but the trend is turning lower day by day. As that happens and confirms a pattern, rallies are to be sold — not bought.