They've taken a backseat thus far—but corporate results will likely soak up the bulk of investors' attention in the weak ahead.» Read More
U.S. corn and soybean futures plunged on Thursday, with both commodities on track for their biggest daily loss in months, after a government crop report shocked professional traders in both Chicago and New York.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its annual plantings and quarterly stocks reports also said farmers would plant the most corn acres since 1936 and the fourth largest soybean area ever.
Corn stocks were estimated as 5.399 billion bushels, above the average analyst estimate of 5.013 billion bushels. Soybean stocks were pegged at 999 million bushels, above trade guesses of 935 million bushels.
Corn dropped more than five percent on the news, headed for its biggest daily loss since last May. Soybeans fell 3.8 percent, on pace for its worst daily loss in 2-1/2 months, with the declines limited relative to corn after the crop report estimated fewer-than-expected soybean acres.
Gold slipped below $1,600 an ounce on Thursday — both the last trading day of the quarter and of the month — as banks reopened in Cyprus for the first time in two weeks without signs of panic withdrawals, sapping demand for low-risk assets.
Gold hit a one-month high of $1,616.36 last week on concerns the $10 billion euro rescue deal for Cyprus, which will leave big depositors and private bondholders with huge losses, could become a template for future bank bailouts in the euro zone.
Natural gas has been on fire lately. On Wednesday, it hit the highest level since September 2011, and it's risen an incredible 113 percent since April.
So can nat gas keep running higher?
Addison Armstrong wouldn't bet on it. The senior director of market research at Tradition Energy told CNBC.com a sell-off is a short way off. Here are the four reasons why he's bearish.
(Read More: Cheap NatGas May Not Last)
It looks like crude oil could soon spike.
May crude oil futures pressed to new swing highs and above the .618 major retracement level at $95.55 yesterday, reaching a high of $96.45. After a strong close last Friday, and a trade though the 50 percent retracement at $94.45 on Monday, we have seen a massive short-covering this week. All rallies begin with a short cover, and this one has helped crude find a path of least resistance higher ahead of the three-day weekend.
(Read More: Oil Choppy as Investors Read Cyprus Tea Leaves)
Last night, global fears and poor performing equities overseas helped push the dollar higher, and a stronger dollar, as you know, will put pressure on commodities priced in dollars. This should present a good buying opportunity, keeping crude in check early, and allowing traders to step in at the major technical support now at $95.55. The next support below here will be $94.45, and we expect longs to defend this level; only a close below here will signal a failure. The next upside target is just shy of $98, which was the high made on February 20. If the S&P makes new all-time highs, we could see $100 crude in the cards.
Gold is one of the most widely held financial assets – but that doesn't mean everyone understands the catalysts that drive gold higher or lower. On Tuesday's "Futures Now," RBC Precious Metals Strategist George Gero set out to clear two of the biggest misconceptions people have about gold.
Misconception One: If Gold Falls for a While, That Gives You a Good Chance to Buy It
This one sounds pretty obvious. Gold is worth a given amount, so if people keep selling it, than it will fall to a level at which it's a good value – right?
Housing data released Tuesday was mixed, showing home prices jumped while new home sales dropped, prompting renowned economist Robert Shiller to call the housing recovery positive in the short-term, but not without many headwinds. There might even be a bubble, he said.
"One thing that makes it very hard to forecast home prices right now is that we're living in a totally artificial real estate economy," said Shiller, co-creator of the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Index, a widely followed measure of housing prices.
Shiller pointed to the Federal Reserve, which last week reaffirmed its policies on bond purchases and record-low interest rates. In September, the Fed launched a third round of quantitative easing (QE), in which it has bought $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities per month, primarily in mortgage-backed bonds.
While Cyprus's deal to shut down the country's second largest bank in return for 10 billion euros ($13 billion) in rescue funds removed the immediate risk of a financial meltdown, the European Central Bank worked to allay anxiety that this could have negative implications for other euro zone states.
(Read More: Gold Eases Below $1,600; Cyprus Effect Fades)
:As we move from crisis to crisis — from the "fiscal cliff," to the sequester, to what's happening in Europe and the latest problems in Cyprus —one thing is becoming increasingly clear: You should never let the resolution of a crisis go to waste. The market has made, and will continue to make, very tradable moves as we solve one problem and move to the next.
Two of the markets that seem to make the best moves are gold and crude oil. Let's look at the history. When a crisis is first identified, the first thing investors have done is sell crude oil, because of the fear of economic slowdown. The second thing they do is buy gold, because investors like the protection the yellow metal provides.
If gold closes below $1,589.7, the bears will take control.
Gold saw yesterday's choppy trading turn one-directional last night, as the market traded back below $1,600 and to a low of $1595.1. After finding major support yesterday at the low of $1,588.4, just below previous lows but aligned with a retracement point, rumors continued to swirl out of Europe, allowing gold to bounce back. Yesterday's high was $1,606.8, and last night's was $1,605.1.
(Read More: Gold Eases Below $1,600; Cyprus Effect Fades)
It's the rally you probably haven't heard about.
The price of natural gas has spiked to its highest level since 2011, advancing 17 percent year-to-date, as supplies declined for 14 consecutive weeks.
(Read More: Energy Boom Ripples Through US Economy)
The month of March, which typically brings rising daily temperatures going into the spring season, can be characterized as colder than average. This cold weather has increased demand for natural gas, prompting prices to surpass the psychologically critical $4.0 level.
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