Will the precious metal turn a new gold leaf in the new year? RBC's bullion expert thinks so.» Read More
Crude oil is rising to a fresh 14-month high for a fifth straight day. This after inventory data showed a bigger-than-expected decline in crude oil stockpiles. Geopolitical tensions also continue to weigh on the market, as Egyptian concerns have elevated the "risk premium" that is priced into oil.
Interestingly, the spread between U.S. crude oil and the Brent benchmark used internationally has narrowed. Brent now costs just $3 more than WTI crude per barrel, which is the lowest spread since December of 2010.
Two recent developments could spike gasoline prices in the near future.
The first is Saturday's devastating derailment of a train carrying a load of crude to an Irving Oil refinery in Canada. The St. John's refinery has the capacity to process 300,000 barrels of crude a day, making it Canada's largest. And most of that refining capacity goes toward making gasoline. The tracks that run these trains were heavily damaged, and officials say it will take weeks or longer to fix them.
The second development is the formation of the season's first tropical storm, Chantal. This in itself has had little-to-no impact on refiner operations, but it does remind traders that it is hurricane season, and you don't want to be caught short when a disruptive storm is coming.
Earnings and the future of quantitative easing: the market's two biggest concerns. But they're one and the same to Doug Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners Management.
"I see a false economic dawn in the U.S. and around the world," Kass said on CNBC's "Futures Now," adding that the markets and economic data have been boosted by the Federal Reserve's monetary policies. "The bottom line is that interest rates are a very important raw material in the U.S. economy. As they rise, it affects everything—profits, capital spending, hiring."
Rolling back QE will have serious ramifications, he said, and for him there's no question that it's coming. "I think tapering is a given, probably in September," he said.
In the meantime, the earnings picture looks negative to Kass, because easing has obscured the truth about how weak corporate profits are.
"I don't expect earnings to meet consensus expectations," he said. "The singer Robert Palmer was 'Addicted to Love.' Unfortunately, our corporations, our consumer and even are government are addicted to lower interest rates."
Looking for a fundamental reason to own gold? Keep looking.
Simply put, the fundamentals do not look good for the metal. Inflation is tame, interest rates have risen and stocks remain buoyant. Gold has lost more than 30 percent of its value over the last nine months, which has washed out many of the weaker hands.
(Read More: Gold's Jobs Nightmare)
Crude has had an incredible run over the past two weeks. But I'd think twice before hopping aboard this speeding train.
At today's highs, August crude oil futures was up more than 12 percent in two and a half weeks. It would be easy to attribute this rally to tensions in Egypt, but that would tell only part of the story. Both crude and S&P futures began their move on June 24, and although the move in stocks hasn't been as dramatic, it's reasonable to assume that part of crude's move is due to a prevailing risk-on mentality.
(Vote in our poll: Has Oil Hit its High for the Year?)
Gold bugs are doing their best to defend $1,200.
Gold retested $1,200 on Friday, trading down nearly $50 from the highs following a much-better-than-expected employment report. We are not seeing the weakness follow through in this session, as the market has stabilized and is retesting the $1,233 retracement level, which will now serve as resistance. A close above $1,233 on Monday will signal a likely consolidation back toward $1254.60 to $1,255.70 this week.
Friday's jobs report led the U.S. dollar to soar to new swing highs, putting pressure on commodities priced in dollars, which we saw clearly in the metals. On Monday morning, the dollar was slightly in the red, which was giving the metals a breather.
(Read More: Gold's Jobs Nightmare)
The economy just got some great news, and gold hates it.
The U.S. economy added 195,000 jobs in June, easily besting the 165,000 consensus estimate. As soon as it heard the news, gold tanked $26, dropping to the lowest level in a week. But why?
"Gold hates any good U.S. data at this stage," said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management, "because any kind of good news is driving the dollar sharply higher, and gold is just being punished as a result."
(Read More: Job Growth Posts Large Gain in June; Rate Holds)
For Lien, the Federal Reserve's tapering plans remain the market's main focus. And she believes that today's number "overall reinforces the idea that the data is good enough to taper in September."
(Read More: Why Fed May Hike Sooner Than You Think)
That is certainly what the bond market seems to imply. Yields are rising as traders expect that the Fed is now getting the economic signals it needs to exit the bond market shortly. And as yields rise, gold looks like a worse and worse investment, because its zero percent yield looks increasingly meager when compared to the yield of Treasury notes.
(Read More: Why Higher US Yields Should Cheer Investors)
As George Gero, gold analyst at RBC, wrote in a note: "Bond yields jumped higher," which makes for "strong dollar and weak metals."
It's been one of the worst investments of 2013—and this Roubini strategist thinks it will get even worse.
Gold, copper and grain prices have dropped precipitously this year. In fact, JPMorgan's commodity team recently used that as a reason to get bullish on the space. "In a number of commodities, prices have fallen far enough for long enough to force involuntary cuts in production and to spur fresh demand," JPMorgan's note read.
In fact, JPMorgan said that "Sentiment is universally bearish," creating some real opportunities.
But Gary Clark says that sentiment is bearish for a reason. On Tuesday's "Futures Now," the commodities macro strategist at Roubini Global Economics listed the three catalysts that will continue to drive commodity prices lower.
Reason One: Declining Chinese Demand
Chinese expansion has been a huge factor that has undergirded the long run up in commodity prices. But now, "we're seeing weakening in demand growth across the board there," Clark said.
As Clark predicts in a recent note, "China's slowdown will accelerate next year, driven by a collapse in the metal-intensive, investment-driven portion of growth. Demand for metals will fall much more sharply than headline GDP growth numbers would suggest, from double-digit to low single-digit growth and possibly to zero" in the case of iron ore.
And just how important is Chinese demand? "To offset a 1 percent decline in Chinese copper or aluminum demand would require a 3 to 5 percent boost in U.S. or European demand or a 15 to 20 percent boost in Indian or Brazilian demand," Clark writes, adding: "all of which are highly unlikely."
Call it a crude awakening. Geopolitical risk, a large inventory draw, and anxiety about going home short over a holiday weekend have set up oil for higher prices.
Crude oil futures have seen a tremendous move higher this week, as the momentum that carried oil from last week's bottom on the worries of China's cash crunch has been accompanied by this week's tensions in Egypt. In addition, oil is entering the peak of demand season this week. And on Tuesday, inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a tremendous draw. All in all, traders have been given every reason to buy this market.
(Read More: Oil Rises on US Oil Stock Decline, Egypt)
After the API data, crude was able to test a high as $102.18 on Tuesday night. The market has already begun correcting back below $101. Wednesday's Energy Information Administration data will be released as regularly scheduled, and will be one of the most closely watched inventory numbers in recent weeks.
Support will now be found at $99.98 to $100, and a close below here will show signs of a failure. To maintain this pace of momentum, bulls want to see a retest of $102 on Wednesday, and a close above $101.20.
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