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Commodities Roundup - Crude Oil, Sugar, Soybeans
By: James Cordier - Liberty Trading Group

September Crude Oil surged this week to close almost $2.50 over last week's settlement at 29.33 per barrel. Persistent rumors of the US military preparing for an attack have circulated through the energy pits all week. Against this backdrop, the weekly API report showed a dramatic decline in crude oil inventories last week. The API pegged crude stocks at 295.648 million barrels, down 9.498 million barrels compared to last week and well below the five-year average of 315 million barrels. Crude oil stocks have declined for 6 straight weeks and have fallen more than 8% since a high of 322 million barrels was recorded in June.

The reason is not so much blazing demand as it is tightness of supply. While demand has only recently begun to show signs of life as the economy slowly turns around, it is OPEC's production cuts earlier in the year that have trimmed supply and created a bull market.

With prices at such lofty levels, curtailing cheating on production quotas may become more difficult. At the same time, don't expect to see a significant production increase until at least the end of the year. A relapse in the recovering economy, another wave of panic selling in the stock market or a resolution of the Iraqi situation could easily cause energy prices to correct sharply and violently. However, as long as these factors remain on their present course, expect prices to remain firm. An invasion of Iraq in the face of the current supply tightness could produce a price move eclipsing the 1990 highs.


The market seems to feel that sugar is overvalued above 6 cents a pound as prices have struggled to hold those levels for more than a few days at a time. Fresh longs have seemed unwilling to enter the market at those levels with heavy Brazilian exports expected to keep pressure on sugar prices through year's end. While logistical problems have hampered exports from the Center-South region as of late, Brazil is expected to ship over 1 million tons of raw sugar per month through November.

The market appears to be settling into a trading range with the 6.40-6.50 range likely overpriced while 5.00 sugar would seem too cheap. This can often be a good situation for writing premium.


Monday's USDA crop production report even surprised the bulls with the government pegging ending stocks for 02/03 beans at 155 million bushels, while lowering 01/02 carryout by 15 million bushels. A 155 million bushel carryout for 02/03 would be the second lowest stocks figure in a decade. While some argue that additional rains this month could still produce significantly improved yields, the widespread soaking rain that is needed has so far failed to materialize.

As we head into the peak demand 4th quarter, we can't help but be bullish. While corrections are likely, we feel that soybeans may still be underpriced and could have some upside before the recent stocks figure is priced into the market.

Please feel free to call if you would like more information on option writing or any of the ideas mentioned above.

James Cordier
Michael Gross
Liberty Trading Group

James Cordier is head trader and president of Liberty Trading Group, a brokerage firm specializing in option writing on commodities. James' market comments are published by several national financial publications and worldwide news services.

Phone: 800-346-1949

***The information in this article has been carefully compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but it's accuracy is not guaranteed. Use it at your own risk. There is risk of loss in all trading. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Traders should read The Option Disclosure Statement before trading options and should understand the risks in option trading, including the fact that any time an option is sold, there is an unlimited risk of loss, and when an option is purchased, the entire premium is at risk. In addition, any time an option is purchased or sold, transaction costs including brokerage and exchange fees are at risk. No representation is made that any account is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those shown, or in any amount. An account may experience different results depending on factors such as timing of trades and account size. Before trading, one should be aware that with the potential for profits, there is also potential for losses, which may be very large. All opinions expressed are current opinions and are subject to change without notice.



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