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Why Copper is Crashing

When Dr. Copper (CU), the only commodity with a PhD in economics, suddenly collapses from a heart attack, risk takers everywhere have to sit up and take notice.

Since the 2011 top, the red metal has collapsed a shocking 38%. It has given back 10% just in the last two weeks. Will copper take down the rest of the financial markets with it?

I don?t think so.

So called because of its uncanny ability to predict the future of the global economy, copper is warning of dire things to come. The price drop suggests that the great Chinese economic miracle is coming to an end, or is at least facing a substantial slowdown, the government?s 7.5% GDP target for 2014 notwithstanding.

This gloomy view is further confirmed by the weakness in the Shanghai index ($SSEC), which has been trading like grim death all year. Will China permabear, Jim Chanos, finally get his dream come true?

It?s a little more complicated than that. Copper is no longer the metal it once was. Because of the lack of a consumer banking system in the Middle Kingdom, individuals are now hoarding 100 pound copper bars and posting them as collateral for loans.

China is, in effect, on a copper standard. Get any weakness of the kind we have seen this year, and lenders panic, dumping their collateral for cash, crushing spot prices.

The latest plunge has been fueled by rumors of an imminent Chinese banking crisis. The Middle Kingdom?s first corporate bond default in history, by a third tier solar company, further heightened fears. The implicit government guarantee that was believed to back this paper has suddenly gone missing in action.

The high frequency traders are now in the copper futures and spot markets in force, whipping around prices and creating unprecedented volatility. Notice how they seem to be running the movie on fast forward everywhere these days? Because of this, we could now be seeing an overshoot on the downside in copper.

The bottom line here is that copper is suffering from its own unique set of difficulties, which will have a negligible affect on other asset classes.

Watch Dr. Copper closely. At the first sign of any real bottom, you should load up on long dated calls for Freeport McMoRan (FCX), the world?s largest producer, which also has been similarly decimated. The gearing in the company is such that a 10% rise in the price of copper triggers a rapid 20% rise or more in (FCX).

I can wax one here about major structural changes in the Chinese economy that are underway, as the real problem. As the Middle Kingdom shifts from an export driven economy to a domestic demand one, there is less need for the red metal and more need for silicon and brains. But this isn?t something you can trade off of today.

So what is copper really to us? The longer-term charts show a prolonged bottoming process. If $2.90 fails, we could see a revisit to the five-year low at $2.50. That?s your load the boat price. During the global synchronized economic recovery that is underway, you want to view every panic sell off in a single asset class like this as a gift.

COPPER 3-10-14

FCX 3-11-14

SSEC 3-10-14

PenniesNow On Sale

Update on Freeport McMoRan (FCX)

Those who bought my Trade Alert on the Freeport McMoRan (FCX) October $28-$30 bull call spread at $1.68 or best two days ago will be thrilled to see the charts below. They were prepared by my friends at Stockcharts.com, who offer a very reasonable subscription technical analysis product (click here for their site http://stockcharts.com ).

After testing $26 three times over the past two years, the stock has forged a major long term bottom that appears unassailable. This almost perfectly matches the chart for the Chinese stock market, which is demonstrating almost identical strength. Conclusion: higher prices for copper and the rest of the commodity space.

Just thought you?d like to know.

FCX 9-12-13

FCXa 9-12-13

Pennies

Picking Up Freeport McMoRan

It is clear from the improving economic data from China that the hard landing scenario is off the table. This is great news for the producers of everything that the Middle Kingdom buys in bulk, especially copper.

If you like copper, you?ve got to love Freeport McMoRan, one of the world?s largest producers for the red metal. On top of these rapidly improving fundamentals, the stock yields a nice security blanket of a hefty 4% dividend. These factors explain the sizeable insider buying that has been taking place in the shares over the past month.

Finally, the technical picture is looking pretty positive. The chart is showing that an upside breakout is taking place, supported by a sharp turn up in the 50 day moving average. The 200 day moving average is not far above, settle up the possibility of a fabled ?golden cross.? This is universally positive for share prices.

This commodity is known in the investment industry as Dr. Copper, the only metal that has a PhD in economics. That?s because of its uncanny ability to predict the future of the global economy. Copper is now hinting of better things to come, along with the stock market, like a 3.5% GDP growth rate in the US next year.

The recent strength further is confirmed by longer-term charts for the Shanghai index ($SSEC), which is showing that a double bottom may well be in place. Will China permabear, Jim Chanos, finally get his comeuppance?

Copper was the first metal used by man in any quantity. The earliest workers in the red metal found that it could be easily hammered into sheets and worked into shapes, which became more complex and artistic as their skill increased. The ability to resist corrosion ensured that copper, bronze and brass remained as functional as well as decorative materials during the Middle Ages and through the Industrial Revolution to the present day.

Of the 16.7 million metric tonnes of copper produced in 2012, Chile was far and away the leader, with 5.4 million tonnes, followed by China at 1.5 million tonnes, Peru at 1.2 million tonnes, and the US at 1.1 million tonnes. This makes the Chile ETF (ECH) another great backdoor play in copper. As copper is a great electrical conductor, it is primarily used for electrical wiring, followed by the construction industry and shipbuilding, and the auto industry, especially in alternative vehicles.

It?s true that copper is no longer the dominant metal it once was. Because of the lack of a consumer banking system in the Middle Kingdom, individuals have been hoarding 100 pound copper bars and posting them as collateral for loans. Get any weakness of the kind we have seen this year, and lenders panic, dumping their collateral for cash.

The high frequency traders are now also in there in force, whipping around prices and creating unprecedented volatility. You can see this also in gold, silver, oil, coal, platinum, and palladium. Notice how they seem to be running the movie on fast forward everywhere these days? This summer, we probably got an overshoot on the downside in copper that finally flushed out the last of the weak holders.

This is why I am loading up with a bull call spread Freeport McMoRan. The gearing in the company is such that a 50% rise in the price of copper triggers a 100% rise in (FCX). More conservative ad less leveraged investors can buy the First Trust ISE Global Copper ETF (CU).

FCX 9-11-13

SSEC 9-6-13

COPPER 9-9-13

ECH 9-11-13

Map-Where to Find Copper

Where to Find Copper

Pennies

The Great Copper Crash of 2013

When Dr. Copper (CU), the only commodity with a PhD in economics, suddenly collapses from a heart attack, risk takers everywhere have to sit up and take notice. Since the 2011 top, the red metal has collapsed a shocking 35%.

So called because of its uncanny ability to predict the future of the global economy, copper is warning of dire things to come. The price drop suggests that the great Chinese economic miracle is coming to an end, or is at least facing a substantial slowdown. This dark view is further confirmed by the weakness in the Shanghai index ($SSEC) which has been trading like grim death all year. Will China permabear, Jim Chanos, finally get his dream come true?

It?s a little more complicated than that. Copper is no longer the metal it once was. Because of the lack of a consumer banking system in the Middle Kingdom, individuals are now hoarding 100 pound copper bars and posting them as collateral for loans. Get any weakness of the kind we have seen this year, and lenders panic, dumping their collateral for cash.

The high frequency traders are now in there in force, whipping around prices and creating unprecedented volatility. You can see this also in gold, silver, oil, coal, platinum, and palladium. Notice how they seem to be running the movie on fast forward everywhere these days? Because of this, we could now be seeing an overshoot on the downside in copper which may never actually materialize to this extreme in equities or other asset classes.

Watch Dr. Copper closely. At the first sign of any sustained strength, you should load up on long dated calls for Freeport McMoRan (FCX), the world?s largest producer, which also has been similarly decimated. The gearing in the company is such that a 50% rise in the price of copper triggers a 100% rise in (FCX).

So what is copper telling us today? The longer term charts show a prolonged bottoming process. If this holds, we could be seeing the early days of a resurgence in the global economy. Just get Syria, Egypt, the debt ceiling crisis, and the taper out of the way, and we could be in for a major run. That is a tall order. But just to be safe, I am buying long dated calls in the next major dip in (FCX), which may have started today.

COPPER 8-26-13

CU 8-27-13

FCS 8-27-13

PenniesA Penny for Your Thoughts on Copper?

Trade Alert Service Blasts to New All Time High

The Trade Alert Service of the Mad Hedge Fund Trader posted a new all time high today, pushing its two-year return up to 66%. The Dow average booked a miniscule 12% gain during the same time period. The industry beating record was achieved on the back of a spectacular January, which so far had earned readers a mind blowing 10.92% profit.

Right after the January 2 opening, I shot out Trade Alerts urging readers to take maximum long positions in the S&P 500 (SPY) and the Russell 2000 small cap index (IWM). Later, I piled on longs in copper producer Freeport McMoRan (FCX) and American Insurance Group (AIG). I balanced these out with aggressive short positions in the Treasury bond market (TLT), and the Japanese yen (FXY), (YCS). Only my position in Apple (AAPL) has cost me money this year.

After grinding around just short of the previous top for four tedious and painful months, the breakout was certainly welcome news for many. Once I wracked up an unprecedented 25 consecutive profitable trades over the summer, things went wobbly. The Fed unleashed an early, surprise, pre election QE3. Then inventors stopped drinking the Apple (AAPL) Kool Aide en masse. The extent of the tax loss selling after the Obama win was also a bit of a shocker. Maybe I should take longer vacations.

Then the ?aha? moment came. I concluded at the end of November that the multiple political crises facing us were nothing more than hot air. This meant the risk markets were poised to launch multi month bull runs to new all time highs, and I positioned myself, and my followers, accordingly. In the end, that is exactly what we got.

Global Trading Dispatch, my highly innovative and successful trade-mentoring program, earned a net return for readers of 40.17% in 2011 and 14.87% in 2012. The service includes my Trade Alert Service, daily newsletter, real-time trading portfolio, an enormous trading idea database, and live biweekly strategy webinars. To subscribe, please go to my website at www.madhedgefundtrader.com, find the ?Global Trading Dispatch? box on the right, and click on the lime green ?SUBSCRIBE NOW? button.

FCX 1-22-13

AIG 1-22-13

TLT1-22-13

Trade Alert Service

Strong Dollar Spells Death for Commodities

Panic is on deck, to use the baseball terminology that my foreign readers are often attempting to decipher. That is the only conclusion one can reach after getting gob smacked by the price action this morning. Copper got spanked for eight cents, oil burned $2, gold shed another $26, and silver puked 70 cents.

The tantrum like stock behavior in producing and equipment companies, like Freeport McMoRan (FCX) and Caterpillar (CAT) has been atrocious. How many of you out there know that JP Morgan (JPM) is the largest holder of futures contracts in the silver market and just got hit with a massive margin call? Why is all this happening on the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the HMS Titanic?

Blame it all on Uncle Buck, whose recent steroid treatments has enabled him to unload the pounds, shed the fat, and adopt a new, more virile attitude towards life. Every other currency now looks like a 98 pound weakling. We now awake each morning to be greeted by the latest disastrous headline from Europe that accelerates the capital flight from the continental currency.

The Euro (FXE), (EUO), is deteriorating from bad to worse, with the foreign exchange community now clearly gunning for the next short term support at $1.26. Look at a ?10 note these days and it has recently printed upon it ?Abandon hope all ye who enter here.?

Traditional diversification currencies, like the Australian (FXA) and Canadian dollars (FXC) are now biting the hands that fed them, dragged down by their export commodities? pitiful performance. Hard as it is to imagine, the Ausie has been the world?s worst performing major currency this year, even underperforming the dreadful euro. Australian readers who followed my advice to pay for their summer vacations in advance at the $1.10 that prevailed at the beginning of the year are smiling. Those they didn?t are now looking for a discount caravan at a remote, dingo plagued campsite somewhere in the Outback.

The Japanese yen, the currency that everyone loves to hate, has perked up to a flight to safety bid while the rest of the world goes to hell in a hand basket. We are currently in between Bank of Japan quantitative easings there, so don?t expect this to last much longer. The tipping point into hyper debt driven, economic Armageddon there creeps ever forwards with each passing day on the calendar.

Take a look at the charts below for the US Dollar Index and it is obvious that things may soon get a whole lot worse. For starters, the dollar has only rallied back to the midpoint of a multiyear range. To get back up to the top of that range it needs to appreciate another 10%. To understand why this is a problem, look at the second chart that proves a tremendous inverse correlation between the dollar and commodities. A strong dollar always leads to falling demand for the hard stuff.

The third chart suggests that the other grotesquely overvalued asset class, US stocks, is also cruising for a bruising. Commodities led equities in this downturn by three months, as they usually do. If they break support here, then they will easily drag the (SPX) down to my medium term target of 1,275, off a heart thumping 10.3% from the recent top. If the economic data continues to worsen on a daily basis, as I have been chronicling on a daily basis for the last two months ad naseum and ad absurdum, then we have a clear shot at the fall, 2011 low at 1,060.

 

 

 

 

 

Oops, There Goes My Equity Portfolio

Why Dr. Copper is Looking Ill

Traders like to refer to the red metal as Dr. Copper because it is the only one that has a PhD in economics. This year it has been proving its credentials as a great predictor of future economic activity once again.

Copper has been leading the downside charge for all risk assets since it peaked on February 10. After looking at the latest trade data for the red metal, it is clear that it has a lot more bleeding to do. This does not bode well for risk assets anywhere.

The harsh truth is that copper stockpiles in China, which accounts for 40% of global consumption, are the highest in history. Estimates for the size of current stockpiles in country run as high as 3 million tonnes, with a stunning 918,000 tonnes coming in during the last six months. Consumption totaled only 1 million tonnes in Q1, 2012, and could fall to as low as 1.7 million tonnes over the remaining three quarters. The mismatch is huge, and makes the current price of $3.64 a pound look pretty expensive.

This imbalance is occurring in the face of a slowing Chinese economy. Only yesterday, the Chinese purchasing managers index for April came in at 49.1, well below the boom/bust level. Residential real estate, the largest consumer of copper in the Middle Kingdom, has clearly been in a bear market since last year.

The grim outlook is expected to make a serious dent into the profits of major producers, BHP Billiton (BHP), Freeport McMoRan (FCX), Rio Tinto (RIO), and Anglo American (AAUKY.PK), and Xstrata (XTA.L).

If the risk off scenario continues through the summer, then a $3.25 downside target is a chip shot. Remember that the 2009 low was positively subterranean $1.25 a pound. Bring in a real summer slowdown, and lower prices are within reach. Professionals will be selling the futures on any decent rally. Individuals can sell (CU) on market, are buy near money puts.