Too Much Fear, Not Enough Hunger

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Today is the end of September, and last Friday saw a lot of funds moving money around at the end of the month. I’ll assume that there will be some carry over of that change around tomorrow. For me though, things haven’t changed all that much from last week. Soybeans finished the week +12 cents and there is no signal to get out yet. I’m not even going to change my stop loss this week, as I’m happy with where it is at the moment. The coming week may have choppy waters as the news at the tail end of last week percolates through the market and it decides what it’s going to do.

Wheat is tantalising. I don’t know how much higher it’s going to go but the knowledge that due to my own mistakes I have lost out on the biggest move of the year is frustrating and infuriating. In short, I’m afraid of it clouding my judgement. Then there’s the fear, that just as I get in, it’ll reach its top and then start the slide down. In truth, it’s more likely that it’ll go up and then move sideways for a while before falling back down again.

As I look around the various commodities that I have been interested in and keeping an eye on for the last few months, I see that a few trends appear to have started, but again I’m feeling the fear. If you’ll forgive a metaphor. I feel like a hunter who’s been knocked up badly not so long ago, let’s say an elephant. I barely escaped with my life but now I’m back out on the plains and I’ve got a few animals within range. As I line up the sights, my eyes lose focus and I can’t pull the trigger. I can feel that some of these trends could be big movers in the months ahead, but I just can’t seem to get over the experience of being almost wiped out.

This fear is affecting my hunger for the markets as well. I’m comfortable with soybeans at the moment, that’s all that my trading diet consists of right now. I’m too afraid to branch out into other markets, due to this fear of my account getting wiped out and the idea that I’m too late to get in on these trends. I need to get out of this state of comfort and back into a mindset where I have the hunger and I can lose the fear. So that’s my little assignment for the week, to get back into the game and stop sitting on the sidelines.

Nursery Rhymes

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As I was searching the source of all modern day knowledge for yesterday’s post to ensure I got the correct words for “Seesaw, Margery Daw,” I came across what that nursery rhyme is all about. Seemingly, a “daw” is a slovenly person and Margery was a common rural name in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. The rest of the rhyme supposedly refers to child labour in the workhouses of the time.

Workhouses were covered in my history classes during Primary School, when we were learning about the Irish Famine. They were truly the last refuge of those without any other options. To think that such an innocuous children’s rhyme could be about such a dismal and awful place. Another source, from the BBC’s H2G2, indicates that the song was originally sung by workers to keep time while sawing logs with a two-man saw. This strikes me as quite likely, before it was picked up by children. I wonder is it from this rhyme then that the word for a “see-saw” originated? I can imagine a see-saw being thrown together by a lumberjack for his children and then the children singing their father’s song as they played on it.

I am wary of any meanings behind nursery rhymes however, having learned that the modern interpretation for “Ring a Ring O’Rosies,” is just a popular misconception, first introduced in the 20th century. The repository of all modern day knowledge covers in more detail in its article the supposed allusions to the bubonic plague in the song. It seems neat and tidy, but again you have to wonder, could a children’s rhyme have such a dark undertone where they all die when “we all fall down.”

A final thought on Nursery Rhymes and that comes from a television program I saw a few months ago where there was a story about how nursery rhymes were dying out as children no longer knew them. I know that I sang lots of rhymes as a child, but I notice that my little cousins don’t use them in their play. So if you want to join the fight to bring back Nursery Rhymes, I’d like to suggest http://www.rhymes.org.uk which includes the lyrics for the kids and the origins for your own entertainment.

Seesaw, Margery Daw

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So much, for no surprises in the USDA’s grain stock report. Soybeans came in at a record 573 million bushels, well above estimates. Having read the report when it came out, I expected today to close well down. It did, all but reversing yesterday’s gains. Those extra 20 million bushels in the current stocks provide a little more leeway for next year’s inventories.Some analysts are indicating that today’s lower close was more to do with end-of-month profit-taking than anything else. That may well be true. The market made more leaps and bounds this week, so I would expect the usual profit taking to happen. In any case, I don’t see that the underlying fundamentals have changed. I note that China bought another 120,000 tons. Then again, Bloomberg is reporting that Palle Pedersen an “agronomist” at Iowa State is feeling very confident about this year’s crop for soybeans:

“The crop is going to be very good” and “Farmers are very happy with the yields they have been harvesting.”

This is part of my fascination with the markets, they are almost always so contradictory in nature. One day, they move up, the next they move down. (Unless it’s wheat it seems.) A simple idea such as the colour of grass is purple one day and pink the next, sometimes its even orange and blue at the same time. The bears and bulls sit on opposite sides of the seesaw, taunting each other:

Seesaw, Margery Daw,
Johnny shall have a new master.
He shall earn but a penny a day
Because he can’t work any faster.

Monday is a new week and I have no idea which way the market is going to go, except for wheat, it’ll probably go up.

Open Positions

Asset Contract Position Change
Soybeans November 2007 Long -17.62

Account Details

Account Balance: €271.48
Open Position P/L: €511.00
Account Position: €782.48
Overall P/L: -€1267.52
   

Break on Through to the Other Side

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Soybeans sailed right on through the $10 mark. The underlying fundamentals have been stacking up for a while now with increasing demand and falling supplies and since August have manifested themselves in a huge push upwards of the price. No doubt, the falling dollar and the continued march upwards of wheat have also been a major influence and today was no different.Wheat made a new record today at $9.3925. If the fundamentals are strong in soybeans, then they are doubly so for wheat at the moment. It is possible that what we have been seeing in wheat recently will be happening in soybeans next year. This all depends on how the planting goes in the coming months. If wheat continues upwards as it might do and reach its own $10 mark, then soybeans are going to be hit hard and won’t be able to recover the 5 million acres that it needs to.

The new record in wheat doesn’t evoke much regret anymore and I’m starting to think that perhaps I should get back in with a new long position. Then again Jim Rogers has already stated earlier this week, that he wouldn’t buy wheat at the moment; “I don’t like to jump on a moving bus.” I respect that man’s opinion. So I start thinking should I be entering a short position in wheat, before I finally come to my senses and remember that I do have a plan and any time I have strayed from that, the result has been serious damage to my account.

Back with soybeans, the USDA reported export sales at 745,600 metric tons, nudging close to the upper end of estimates. A new three year high was hit at $10.1775. Prices were last at this level in May 2004, when it hit a high of $10.64. Prices are still a bit away from that but the March and July ’08 contracts did reach $10.41 today.

Tomorrow is another Friday and there is another report due out from the USDA, this time on grain stocks, so there is some new info for the market to play with but the consensus appears to be that there will be no suprises. So I’m expecting the usual short-covering towards the end of the day tomorrow following this week’s continued action breaking upwards.

Open Positions

Asset Contract Position Change
Soybeans November 2007 Long +18.63

Account Details

Account Balance: €271.48
Open Position P/L: €583.52
Account Position: €855.00
Overall P/L: -€1195.00
   

Support Stronger Than Expected

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Well, I guess I was a little right. Planting is providing the support, it’s just a lot more than I had anticipated at the moment. The factor’s haven’t changed, Brazil and wheat are still the major reasons behind the support. Dow Jones‘ outlook for the day had it summed up in their opening line:

Soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade are poised for a higher start to Wednesday’s day session, taking their cue from the overnight theme, as bullish underlying fundamentals absorb seasonal weakness

Add in China, with speculation that they will be increasing imports as their own output is expected to fall to an eight year low, and there was plenty of things for the bulls to run with. High of the day was 9.92, so the $10 mark is yet to be reached, but it didn’t close far off of the high at $9.90

There’s a lot more concern about the harvest today, even with the report earlier in the week that the crop condition was improved. Any ideas that the USDA’s prediction earlier in the month might have been too small is seemingly evaporating.

There’ll be more news tomorrow with the weekly export sales from the USDA out. Expectations are higher this week, between 500,000 and 800,000 metric tons. Friday will see the USDA report on current Grain Stocks. Having left the relative doldrums of the last few day’s little to no news, which way will the wind now blow?

Open Positions

Asset Contract Position Change
Soybeans November 2007 Long +17.13

Account Details

Account Balance: €271.48
Open Position P/L: €506.52
Account Position: €778.00
Overall P/L: -€1272.00
   

Harvesting Pressure, Planting Support

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I did catch some of the market action today and it seemed to me that wheat was pulling up corn and soybeans for most of the day. In the end though, with wheat giving up some of its earlier gains towards the end of the session, the short-term factors weighed heavily on soybeans with the harvest underway and yesterday’s USDA report indicating a better crop condition. The question now is, how much will the coming harvest impact on the bidding for next year’s crops. Northern Brazil still has weather that is too hot and dry for planting and will continue to be like that for the next couple of weeks according to the forecast. I note that soybeans today closed 3 1/4 from the low and 9 off the high. I think I can expect more days like today, with the price of wheat being the supportive factor.

Open Positions

Asset Contract Position Change
Soybeans November 2007 Long -5.87

Account Details

Account Balance: €271.48
Open Position P/L: €437.52
Account Position: €709.00
Overall P/L: -€1341.00
   

Unnoticeably Quiet

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I wasn’t keeping an eye on the market at all today. I just about caught the pre-opening reports but other than that I didn’t see much. All in all, I don’t appear to have missed anything. The news this morning was about Paraguay and the expected good harvest there. Soybeans opened a little higher and traded in a fairly tight range, before closing -0.25. There was some news about another sale to China, but really it was just a quiet Monday.

The USDA released the weekly Crop Progress report as they do after the market closed and it wasn’t all that surprising. 12% of the crop has been harvested which is slightly below the expectations I’ve been reading. The crop condition improved some more and this will be an interesting factor in tomorrow’s movements.

Open Positions

Asset Contract Position Change
Soybeans November 2007 Long +0.13

Account Details

Account Balance: €271.48
Open Position P/L: €462.52
Account Position: €734.00
Overall P/L: -€1316.00
   

Feeling Cautious

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I didn’t do much in the way of analysis this weekend, due to family engagements and just generally taking a break from everything. However, hanging over any thoughts I had, about entering into a new position, was the fact that I still don’t think I have recovered enough to open a new position. I have learned all too well that you need to be able to withstand short-term reversals and I don’t want to lose any more of my capital by needlessly entering a position and then getting stopped out a day or two later. The size of my account and the levels of leverage at which I would be trading a lot of assets also precludes me from a number of possibilities.

Nagging away at the back of my mind also is a fear of losing money, of a position going against me. Having previously been reckless I now think I’m feeling overcautious. I will have to work through this psychological barrier so that when I do have enough money in my account, I will be able to pull the trigger and enter into another market.

Only this morning did I finally look at a few different commodities. There were a few possibilities and I almost entered long into gold, but held off for the reasons previously stated. As far as this week goes, soybeans are obviously still worth staying in, so there was no need to make much of a decision on that. I did move my stop loss up some more, to protect myself from a price shock. All in all, nothing major.

Soybeans Finally Take A Breath

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After ten sessions, soybeans finally closed down. I was expecting it and indeed have been waiting for the past three days for it to happen. It seemed very likely that it would need to take a breath, having risen 4% this week alone. With nothing new today to help the bulls push forward and the combines starting to roll out with good weather for the harvest in the US, it was only surprising to me that more profit-taking hadn’t happened earlier in the week. I guess I have China to thank for that. Clearly the market believes it is currently overbought. Now, to wait for next week to see if this breath becomes a breather.

Corn again seems to be of most interest having closed up once again. I suppose when you’ve potentially got the biggest crop since the 1940s, and the reports have been good so far, but the price is still going up, that’s one hell of a surprise and hence big news. Wheat only drew a few wistful sighs from me today as it touched limit-up once again and closed up 24 cents. *sigh*

As my account is now a little healthier, I will be looking for other potential positions over the weekend. It certainly feels like I’ve missed the boat on several opportunities over the last four weeks. It will need some careful consideration, to be covered in my very first WRAP UP.

Open Positions

Asset Contract Position Change
Soybeans November 2007 Long -10.00

Account Details

Account Balance: €271.48
Open Position P/L: €460.00
Account Position: €731.48
Overall P/L: -€1318.52
   

Soybeans Ease the Pain

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Corn seems to be grabbing the bigger headlines today, but for me soybeans continue to play up a storm. Now into it’s tenth successive positive close, soybeans continued to make fresh three year highs, reaching 996’4 early in the session. The USDA‘s weekly exports figure came in comfortably at the higher end of expectations at 513,600 metric tons. It was also reported over night that China will be lowering import duties to help combat hyper-inflation. This news was seen as more important for corn with China obviously needing more for food consumption than they are producing this year, but it was also seen as positive with China being the largest importer of soybeans. Both of these no doubt were the major bullish factors on today’s movements in soybeans.With the November 2007 contract within a whisker of $10 and the following three contracts already above the $10 mark, can this week end by breaking through this resistance point? I doubt it. It may reach the $10 during the session but with the usual closing of positions and weekend hedging, I’m expecting it to do no more than consolidate around or lower than today’s closing price.

Today however marks an important psychological milestone for me as my account finally reaches back over €750. This signifies the last of the lump sums that I deposited into my account several weeks ago. I was hugely over stretched at the time and followed it with more foolish behaviour that eventually with one mistake lost me a huge chunk of my capital. Since then, with my capital so low I was forced to cut right back on my positions and as a consequence missed out on the major movement in wheat recently. That lesson has been hard won, but I believe well learned at this stage. My open position profit also made it over €500, another nice number to reach. Of course, I realise that these are not concrete figures nor that they in fact mean much, but since so much of trading is psychological, it remains important to me. It also means that I have a new goal in mind and as such is a step forward.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from a short article by Nico Isaac, introducing two publications (Monthly Futures Junctures and Daily Futures Junctures) that provide analysis on commodity markets.

Sorting Soybeans: The media reports are more “mixed” than a bag of beans: “US soybean harvest forecast to be smaller than last years.” — VERSUS — “Soybean acres could be on increase next year.” And, “Soybean harvest faces another threat: freeze damage.” — VERSUS — “There are no specific harvest concerns at this time.”

The September 18 Daily Futures Junctures has ONE clear message: “I believe this is a market to watch this week.”

Open Positions

Asset Contract Position Change
Soybeans November 2007 Long +18.38

Account Details

Account Balance: €271.48
Open Position P/L: €503.52
Account Position: €775.00
Overall P/L: -€1275.00