As 2013 draws to an end, we take a moment to reflect on the happenings in the commodity world from this past year. All-in-all, it was a tough year for a number of hard assets, as the S&P GSCI Commodity Index struggled to find any momentum, losing approximately 2% for the year. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has jumped more than 26%, as equities have dominated throughout the year. While the story has been grim for some, there are a handful of commodities that have been able to turn in a solid performance in 2013 [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Though many day traders base their decisions on technical trends, savvy commodity traders also incorporate factual fundamental reports into their research to ensure that they are on the right side of the trade at all times. For energy traders, the data and outlook provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) are some of the most important reports to follow [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Though taper talks have dominated the headlines in recent months, investors are once again turning their attention to Washington as Congress struggles to come to a bi-partisan budget agreement. On Tuesday, the U.S. federal government officially shut down after Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a fiscal budget. And though the government has stressed that all “essential” operations would continue, investors are already feeling the impacts of the shutdown [for more commodity futures news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Natural gas is, perhaps, one of the most cyclical commodities in the space, as its demand and usage is heavily tied to seasonality. As a result, its price cycles for the past few decades have been somewhat predictable, even though it can be quite volatile day-to-day. Both of those factors combine to make it one of the most popular commodities traded on the market. 2013, however, looks like it may be moving away from its normal trend [for more natural gas news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The spread between West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent Crude oil has long been under the microscope for energy traders across the world. The past few years have seen this spread heavily favor Brent, as it has been trading at a premium to its western cousin for quite some time. But as 2013 unfolds, the spread has been steadily narrowing, much to the surprise of a number of analysts [for more crude oil news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The summer of 2013 has been notably cooler than the scorcher that 2012 brought, but August saw the heat turned up on the U.S., having a marked impact on a number of commodities. Soybeans, in particular, have seen their prices spike, as the hot and dry weather of the last few weeks has taken its toll. The run higher could throw a wrench in the commodity’s standard cycle, making it all the more difficult to trade [for more soybeans news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
In the commodities world, oil is undeniably one of the most important resources on the globe. Its price movements are closely tied to nearly every economic factor, as well as both domestic and international conflicts. In recent weeks, the escalating violence in Syria has put significant upward pressure on oil, pushing the fuel over $110 a barrel. While the country itself is not a major oil producer, its close geographic proximity to key sea routes and pipelines has investors understandably concerned over the immediate future of the commodity [for more oil news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].