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Trading the Commodity Slump

It could be due to mild dollar strength or outside market influence, but we've seen a number of declines in the commodity sector in recent weeks and months. I'm going to jump around to some of the major commodities, identify their moves of late and opine on whether they're likely to continue heading south.

In the energy complex, crude oil has traded down from the $100-per-barrel level, shedding just over $10, or 10%. This move has happened within the last three weeks and, in my eyes, prices could see an additional $3 to $5 of deprecation before this leg is complete.

In the softs sector, a slump has transpired in cocoa, as was predicted several weeks ago. Since the beginning of September, prices have lost 11%, having completed a 50% Fibonacci retracement as of today. A further 2% drop would put prices at the 200-day moving average. From midsummer to early September, meanwhile, sugar prices fell 19% before they staged 10%-plus rally in the last month. My stance here is that dips can be bought and that we'll see further appreciation. Coffee has been moving lower for most of 2012, and last week I believe it started a new leg lower that will take the contract to fresh lows in the weeks to come.

As for U.S. Treasury bonds, yields have been moving sideways for the last three months. However, I saw some sell signals this week, and within the last few days I've advised clients to establish bearish trades. My opinion is that an interim high has just been established, and that lower trade should persist in the coming weeks.

After the drought this summer, agricultural commodities were in the headlines for months on end, but prices have corrected significantly in the past two months. Corn prices dropped from near $8.50 per bushel to some $7 before the most recent advance. My expectation is that harvest lows have yet to be made. Since early September, prices of soybeans have lost approximately 13%. After completing a 50% Fibonacci retracement, I think we'll see a slight bounce of 4% to 6% that can be sold. Right along with soybeans, the products meal and bean oil also suffered, trading lower by 12% and 13%, respectively.

The metals, for their part, have not declined; in fact, they've done the exact opposite. But I'm including them in this piece because I believe a correction is long overdue -- and maybe in the first inning, as of this post. I am calling for a minimum of a 5% drop in gold, which would put prices under $1,700 per ounce. As for silver, this has been a standout, having appreciated more than 30% in the last four months. But, in immediate future, my feeling is that prices will depreciate by 7% to 10%.

At the time of publication, Bradbard had no positions in the securities mentioned. Risk Disclaimer: The opinions contained herein are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations and are not tailored to any specific's investor's needs or investment goals. You should fully understand the risks associated with trading futures, options and retail off-exchange foreign currency transactions ("Forex") before making any trades. Trading futures, options, and Forex involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for all investors. You should carefully consider whether trading is suitable for you in light of your circumstances, knowledge, and financial resources. You may lose all or more of your initial investment. Opinions, market data, and recommendations are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

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