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From rising oil prices to falling demand for copper, several signs point to a potential market downturn.
Everyone knows that trouble in the Middle East has created fear with respect to the oil markets. It is also widely documented that the oil reserves here in the U.S. are at multi-year highs and that our supply chain has not been disrupted. In addition, the U.S. receives virtually no oil from Libya. Most of the oil we import from North Africa comes from Algeria -- a country that is not nearly as perilous as Libya currently is.
Libya supplies about 2% of the oil supply for the entire world, so a disruption there would have a ripple effect, albeit a relatively small one. There is talk that Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations would make up that shortfall. Many investors believe that oil prices are on the verge of a significant decline -- perhaps all the way back to the $85-per-barrel level.
However, there is another faction that believes oil could rise to $120 to $200 per barrel. Obviously the continuing drama in the oil-producing countries backs this argument. A "Day of Rage" protest is scheduled to take place tomorrow in Saudi Arabia, the largest oil-producing nation in the world. Young Saudis feel disenfranchised. Nearly 40% of Saudis aged 20 to 24 are unemployed and many have argued that the Kingdom's expansive oil wealth is concentrated in the hands of the royal circle.
Saudi leadership does not want the seeds of change sprouting in their country. As such, they will want any demonstrations to be suppressed. To support its ban on protests, the Saudi government recently obtained a religious edict, or fatwa, saying that protests are prohibited in Islam. Also, the Saudi Interior Ministry posted on its website that "security forces are lawfully authorized to take all necessary actions against whoever tries to violate the law in any way and will be subject to the full force of the relevant regulations."
I believe the Saudi government's handling of the "Day of Rage" will have major implications for our markets tomorrow. Should the demonstrations conclude peacefully, oil prices may contract and the markets would most likely rally. Should problems break out in Saudi Arabia, the opposite could be true, and that would be negative.
Adding to concerns for our markets is the action of copper. Copper has long been considered a leading indicator of market direction. It has a nickname, "Dr. Copper," for its uncanny ability to predict the future health for our stock market. With overnight concerns coming out of China that demand for many commodities, including copper, is lower, it is not surprising that our markets were off in early trading today. Demand for copper in China was down 35% last month.
iPath Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total Return ETN
has broken below the neckline of a bearish head-and-shoulders price pattern. If the charts turn out to be right, JJC could soon fall from this morning's price of $55.13 to $50 per share. If copper remains a precursor for future stock market performance, that kind of move would be negative.
To protect your portfolio from some potential negative geopolitical and market repercussions, purchase the
ProShares UltraShort S&P 500
. SDS seeks to provide 2x the inverse of the daily performance of the
. SDS has been forming a bottoming pattern and is poised to rise should if the S&P encounters a further correction from its recent peak.
SDS was trading at $22 per share this morning. Should it close above $22.25, SDS could run to $27.50. It would most likely encounter some resistance near $23.10. Place a stop at $20.50 for protection.
The stock market will signal its own indication of future direction when it either exceeds the Feb. 18 high or falls below the Feb. 24 low. Regardless of the direction it takes, I believe it will be a move of 5% to 10%. There signs suggest that the next move will be down. Buy SDS to prepare for that shift.
At the time of publication Jerry Slusiewicz and Pacific Financial Planners held no positions in the stocks mentioned.
Jerry Slusiewicz has over two decades of professional investment experience. He has worked with individuals and institutions to manage monies for both short and long-term investment horizons. This extensive experience through various stock and bond market cycles enables him to offer a unique blend of professional investment counsel and personal service.