Trading Desk Notes: Extreme Sentiments Drive Equities/Commodities/Forex Rallies

The best weekly equity market rally in two years was “set up” by extremely negative sentiment

The Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund ETF Shares (NYSE:) had its lowest weekly close in nearly a year last Friday—down ~14% from January’s All-Time Highs. In last week’s TD Notes, I: Equity market sentiment is currently very negative. If/when prices turn higher, the rally could be dramatic.

It was.

Extreme negative sentiment persisted early this week. The major stock indices fell on Monday, but sentiment reversed in the Monday overnight session, and the indices began to surge higher. rallied >2,000 points from the Monday overnight lows to Friday’s close. All of the leading American Indices closed Friday at their best levels in over a month, the index had its best weekly close in four months, and the (commodity heavy) closed at All-Time Highs.

DJTA Daily Chart
S&P/TSX Composite Index Daily Chart

S&P/TSX Composite Index Daily Chart

The DJIA, and VTI indices have recovered ~50% of their declines from ATH; the has recovered “rotation” since November.

VTI Daily Chart
NASDAQ-100 Daily Chart

Extreme commodity market sentiment also “set up” dramatic price reversals

futures and the broad commodity indices surged to 14-year highs last week; Chicago and New York surged to All-Time Highs. The concern was “supply shortages,” but uncertainty, poor liquidity, and volatility created fears of existential systemic risk—a grand Minsky moment—when over-levered “Big Shorts” might trigger this market’s version of a Lehman failure.

Goldman Sachs Spot Index, Quarterly

Goldman Sachs Spot Index, Quarterly

The peak in the commodity surge was in sync with the “” advertising, and markets reversed sharply after that.

LME Nickel Inventory

LME Nickel Inventory

Crude Oil Daily Chart

Currency markets also had dramatic sentiment-driven reversals

Tea hit a 22-month high last week, but the real”action” was in Euro spreads. The Euro plunged against the , the , the and the USD in February/early March, but reversed higher against all currencies on Mar. 7.

Dollar Index Monthly Chart

Dollar Index Monthly Chart
EUR/JPY Daily Chart
EUR/CHF Daily Chart

The Euro vs the USD

EUR vs USD

The Japanese Yen fell to a 6-year low against the USD this week. The prospect of rising US interest rates while Japanese rates stay flat and the possibility of soaring commodity prices apparently paints a dim future for the yen, and speculators are (not unexpectedly) hugely net short. What could possibly cause the yen to rally?

JPY Monthly Chart

Gold spiked and fell back

Comex spiked to new All-Time Highs on Mar. 8 but were nearly $100 lower within 24 hours. This week, gold briefly traded $185 below last week’s highs.

Gold Daily Chart

Gold ETF (NYSE:) holdings have risen ~192 tons YTD, after falling ~ 287 tons in 2021. In 2020 gold ETF holdings increased ~ 751 tons.

Gold ETF Momentum

Gold ETF Momentum

Interest rates had a different kind of reversal

rallied briefly around the beginning of March (maybe the Fed would “back off” from raising rates because of the war), but expectations reversed from those levels as the war seemed to be increasing inflationary pressures. have been rising faster than , creating “inverted ,” which may foreshadow a recession.

The Fed has been following, not leading the market.

EuroDollar Daily Chart
10 Yr US T-Note Daily Chart

10 Yr US T-Note Daily Chart
Barclays Aggregate US Bond Index

Barclays Aggregate US Bond Index

30 Yr Fixed Mortgage Rate

30 Yr Fixed Mortgage Rate

My short term trading

I started this week flat, but I was looking for a bounce from last week’s extremely negative sentiment. I made ten trades, beginning Sunday afternoon, buying S&P, Dow and Euro futures. Three of the trades lost money; seven produced gains. I was trading small size with tight stops. I covered my last position on Thursday’s close and stayed flat into the weekend. My P+L was up ~1% on the week.

On my radar

“What are we trading?” is an existential question. Uncertainty, volatility and thin liquidity make it challenging to define/quantify risk. Headline risk is relentless. The possibility/inevitability of another “Nickel” debacle is ever-present. Inter-market correlations continue to shift. Broken supply chains are likely to sustain high inflation, while political risks limit arbitrage that could dampen price spikes and volatility. It’s a Brave New World.

Sentiment drives prices. Extreme sentiment = extreme price action = a set up for extreme price reversals.

This week, the 2,000 point rally in the Dow may have been the beginning of a charge to new All-Time Highs, or it may have been a classic bear market rally. I don’t know, but I’m leaning towards a bear market rally.

I’ll be looking for opportunities to trade price action rather than “hunches” about what “should” happen.

US vs RoW Equity Performance

US vs RoW Equity Performance

Thoughts on trading

In the Jan. 29, in the Quotes from the notebook section, I quoted Bruce Kovner from the 1989 edition of The Market Wizards:

“What I’m really looking for is a consensus that the market is not confirming.”

I keep that in mind when I see”retail” rush into some part of the market. The late 1990s Dot-Com boom and the subsequent crash was a classic, but so was the rush in cannabis, ESG, work-from-home, and lately, commodities—except that commodities haven’t crashed yet—and they may not crash , but the bullish”narrative” has been robust. If the bounce-back following the correction from the Mar. 8 highs rolls over, I’ll look for opportunities to fade bullish commodity enthusiasm.

FMS Investor Positioning

Quotes from the notebook

“The best traders have evolved to the point where they believe without a shred of doubt or internal conflict that “anything can happen.” Mark Douglas, Trading in the Zone, 2000

My comment: I used to have a Post-it note taped to one of my screens that said, “Anything Can Happen.” I had never heard of Mark Douglas when I tapped the note to my screen, but I kept it there after reading his book.

I once had a senior lawyer from a big law firm interview me to do some trading for his client. Years later, he told me that he decided to recommend me to his client when he saw that Post-it on my screen!

“The trader’s job is to imagine the future different than what it is now – find a trade that will profit from that change, and manage the risk of that trade.” Ben Melkman, RTV, 2017

My comment: I agree 100%.

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