American equity markets rose modestly in Wednesday trading as worries over Greece and Portugal were overshadowed by solid performances out of blue chips in the consumer and the technology sectors. International markets were more mixed, however, as European indexes saw red across the board while Asia saw gains in Japan and Australia, but losses in India and China. In currency markets, the U.S. dollar gained against most of its major counterparts, led by a 1% gain against both the euro and British pound, ahead of the key central bank meetings for both of these currencies tomorrow. This made it a rough day for many commodities as the UBS Bloomberg CMCI, the RJ/CRB Commodity, and the Rogers International indexes all saw losses on the day, although the S&P GSCI index did manage to rise by about 11 points in the session.
One of the biggest winners in the commodity markets today was silver which saw futures rise by 1.4% in the session. These gains came on continued worries over the European debt situation, this time coming from Portugal. The nation saw its yields spike for its government debt as Moody’s downgraded the country to junk status, causing many traders to fear that the debt crisis has now reached the Iberian peninsula. This notion helped to drive demand towards safe havens, and since there are still a variety of issues plaguing the American effort to raise the debt ceiling, many focused in on precious metals instead. Gold saw gains of just under 1.1% in the session but this was outmatched by the often volatile silver, as futures for the white metal rose by roughly 50 cents an ounce to just under the $35.95 mark to close out Wednesday trading.
One of the biggest losers in the commodity world today was natural gas which saw its futures decline by 3.4% in Wednesday trading. These losses came despite hot weather across much of the country as traders sold off futures of this important fuel ahead of tomorrow’s weekly IEA report, as well as forecasts of more moderate weather in the weeks ahead. Although temperatures are expected to be higher than average for most of the next few days, two weeks out there is a chance for more moderate weather which is causing the sell-off in the fuel. “Impetus behind the selling appeared to be some shifts in temperature views suggestive of more moderate patterns than had been anticipated earlier this week,” analysts from Ritterbusch & Associates said in a note. As a result, futures have been in the red for this key cooling fuel and the front month contracts are now trading at just $4.22/million BTUs for contracts expiring in August, a nearly twenty cent loss since the beginning of the month.
No positions at time of writing, charts courtesy of barchart.