Commodity speculation and the strong dollar have been major stories in 2005: The price of Comex gold is trading above $500 per ounce for the first time in 18 years, and tested the February 1983 high of $514 this morning. Crude oil futures on the Nymex soared to $70.85, an all-time high, on Aug. 28, just as Hurricane Katrina was about to make landfall. And the strong euro turned on a dime just as 2005 began.
I believe the higher gold price is not just a sign of inflationary pressures. Gold is becoming an asset class of choice for petrodollars, and central banks are increasing their gold reserves on global currency concerns. To me, high gold prices warn that financial assets are vulnerable in 2006. The dollar bottomed at the end of 2004 and could top out by the end of 2005 as global investors get nervous about the growing U.S. budget and trade deficits.
How big a warning? Let's start with a look at the CRB to create the context for commodities, then review each segment and some possible trades on the trends there: gold, oil and the dollar.
The CRB Index is currently trading around 323.38, but closed below its 200-day simple moving average of 313.18 on Nov. 29. It ended that week solidly back above its 200-day SMA; this is similar to the last time the CRB was below its 200-day SMA, on Aug. 12, 2004. At that time, it stayed below the 200-day SMA for just one day. That tells us commodities remain strong. To boot, the index is still well above the weekly pivot at 314.96, monthly pivot at 315.47 and the five-week modified moving average at 319.38. I see quarterly resistances at 337.56 and 347.51, so it still has room to move up.