Traders' sleeper picks for the second half

Into the futures: Prepping for the 2nd half
Into the futures: Prepping for the 2nd half   

It hasn't been a great first half of the year for commodities.

Precious metals are trading lower, as are industrial metals. Major agricultural commodities like corn, wheat and soybeans are all down, in addition to coffee and sugar. Energy commodities have seen gains in 2015, but haven't even come close to recapturing the losses incurred over the past year.

While each commodity responds to its own distinct market forces, the rise in the dollar and in interest rates has been bad news for them all. As each greenback becomes worth more, it takes fewer of them to buy a fixed amount of any given commodity, meaning that prices fall.

Meanwhile, since commodities don't throw off yield like bonds do, greater risk-free rates makes holding commodities relatively less attractive.

But amid all the disappointment and bearish sentiment, some see opportunity. In the second half of the year, some traders are betting that corn and wheat see a rebound. Others are pinning their hopes on silver.

When asked for his "sleeper pick" for the second half of 2015, Jim Iuorio of TJM Institutional Services picked corn.

Iuorio said that further upside for the dollar is likely to be capped by dovish rhetoric from the Federal Reserve, even as they raise rates.

When it comes to corn specifically, however, the Chicago-based trader says that "after several consecutive outstanding growing seasons, corn appears to be priced for perfection. When a market starts ignoring any possibility of turbulence, that is the type to be contrarian."

Iuorio predicts that the grain, which closed the week at $3.85 per bushel, will rise to $4.20 in the near-term, and higher than that by year-end.

Brian Stutland is similarly bullish on agricultural commodities, reasoning that the dollar strength is "over" and inflation is ahead.

"The steeper Treasury yield curve is indicating that you play the reflation trade, which is long food and energy," Stutland wrote to CNBC. "Food inflation is coming faster than the Fed thinks or wants."

Read MoreChart: Can't get worse for copper, so buy it

The silver lining

In the precious metals space, silver has its stalwarts.

When asked for his sleeper pick, RJ O'Brien senior commodities broker Phillip Streible replied that "if you ask me that question today, tomorrow, or 10 years from now, my answer will always be 'silver.'"

Streible is a fan of silver for its unique blend of industrial and precious metal qualities. Once silver is able to divorce itself from its beleaguered yellow brother gold, it will head far higher, the trader believes.

"I truly believe there will be a point where silver disconnects itself from gold and works off of more of a supply/demand pricing, and we see prices blow through $20… $30… $100+ dollars an ounce," Streible wrote to CNBC (the commodity is now a bit below $16). "It's just going to take a trigger to get it going."

Additionally, he rather counter-intuitively argues that upcoming rate hikes from the Fed "will ultimately break the back of the bulls in the stock market, and send investors back into metals. This can act as a catalyst to get people watching silver."

Streible isn't the only one rooting for silver. Teddy Sloup, senior market strategist at Chicago-based trading firm iiTrader, also finds several reason to be about silver, at least in the near-term.

Sloup acknowledges that an interest rate hike, in theory, is "bearish as hell." Still, tighter rates have "been on the table for a year, and at this stage, must be baked into the short-metals-thesis cake."

In addition, traders have gotten more bearish on the metal, so a short covering rally has been ahead, Sloup says. And finally, the trader says silver has "found a strong bottom" around $15.50, bouncing off of that level several times.

No love for gold

Gold, meanwhile, still has plenty of detractors.

Anthony Grisanti of GRZ Energy has tasted same cake as Sloup, but made the opposite conclusion about its flavor. He reasoned that a rate hike will lead to a yet stronger dollar, and that this dollar rally will lead gold to drop to $1,100.

Andy Hecht, author of How to Make Money with Commodities, also says that shorting gold is the best trade for the second half.

Gold and platinum are each trading at high premiums to gold in a historical context, which either means that silver and platinum or too cheap, or that gold is too expensive.

Unlike Sloup and Streible, Hecht would bet on the latter, given the prospect for higher interest rates and a stronger dollar. He sees gold falling to $880 per ounce.

Shorting gold, buying silver, or buying soft commodities—only time will tell which one is the best bet.

—By CNBC's Alex Rosenberg.

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