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A Sweet Trade

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Chocolates, the word itself is enough to elevate the mood because almost everyone loves them. Therefore, along with sweetening the taste buds, we have searched for a trade that is likely to sweeten the portfolio in the medium-term.

Key points

  1. Cocoa prices are quoting near multi-year lows due to over supply
  2. Demand for cocoa products, however, remains strong
  3. History shows that cocoa production is cyclic in nature
  4. The top two producers are taking steps to support prices and avoid a glut in the future
  5. The risk to reward ratio looks attractive for a long-term trade

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate making is quoting near its yearly low. However, we believe that the bottom is in place and cocoa is likely to rally in the medium-term.

What are the uses of cocoa

Cocoa is derived from the cocoa bean and has a history of more than 5000 years. Cocoa is mainly used for making chocolates and its derivatives, something that everybody loves.

So, when cocoa is used for making such a popular product, why is its price quoting near yearly lows?

Price of every commodity is determined by the dynamics of demand and supply. In the case of cocoa, let’s see whether people have suddenly started disliking chocolates or are farmers growing cocoa in large quantities, causing a supply glut.

Chocolate consumption and cocoa production details

Source: Statista.com

The retail consumption of chocolate confectionery globally has seen a gradual uptrend from about 6.946 million tons in 2012/2013 to about 7.3 million tons in 2015/2016. The growth is likely to continue and consumption is expected to reach 7.696 million tons by 2018/2019, according to Statista.com. Between 2007 to 2015, the chocolate market had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +2.3%, according to IndexBox.

Who were the major consumers?

In terms of total consumption, US is the clear leader followed by the UK and France. The world’s top two most populated nations, India and China are far behind. This shows that there is enough scope of growth.

But, is there any proof to show that chocolates have attracted new enjoyers other than the traditional consumers?

To understand this, let’s look at the per capita consumption.

Traditionally, Europe has been a large consumer of chocolates. In 2015, Switzerland was the global leader with a per capita consumption of 8.8 kilograms, closely followed by Germany at 8.4 kilograms. However, according to global market intelligence agency Mintel, sales were flat in the US, UK, Germany, and France between 2015 and 2016.

Nevertheless, while the traditional consumers are plateauing, new consumers are warming up to chocolates and its derivatives.

Russia’s cocoa consumption had an annual growth of 18.1% between 2007 and 2015, which has propelled its per capita consumption to 7.3 kilograms, the third highest in the world.

Similarly, the analysts now expect India to provide the next leg of growth. From 2015 to 2016, India’s chocolate confectionery in retail markets grew by 13%. It is not a one-off growth number because between 2011 to 2015, India recorded a CAGR of 19.9% and the growth is only expected to improve to a CAGR of 20.6% between 2016 to 2020, according to Mintel.

So, it is safe to assume that the growth in chocolate sales is likely to continue for the next few years. Now, let’s look at the supply picture.

Who are the major suppliers of cocoa in the world?

While cocoa consumption is a feature around the world, the production is concentrated in West Africa, which produces about 70% of the world’s cocoa. The world leader in production is Côte d’Ivoire, which alone produces about 30% of the total global production.

The next largest producer is Ghana, which accounts for above 20% of the world’s cocoa production. Third is Indonesia, which is comparatively a newcomer to the group. However, its farms are being infested by the ‘pod bearer insect’, which has resulted in poor roots and poor-quality cocoa bean, severely limiting their rise as a cocoa superpower.

Cocoa bean production over the past decade?

Similar to the consumption of chocolates, cocoa production has increased sharply over the past decade. However, the rise has not been constant. 2010/11 and 2013/14 were bumper years, which were followed by a dip in the following two years.

Including the forecast for 2016/17, there have been five years when production increased, while production fell in the other five years. Nevertheless, the percentage of rise during the up years has been greater than the fall during down years, therefore, production has more or less kept up pace with the increased consumption of cocoa-based products.

The cocoa market keeps shifting from surplus to deficit, as seen in the chart above. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the markets will again fall into a deficit, which will be bullish for cocoa prices. Let’s see the supply and consumption pattern for this year.

So, what is the latest demand and supply situation?

In 2016/17, the International Cocoa Organization expects the global production to increase sharply over 2015/2016, contributing to a global surplus of 371,000 tonnes. A bumper crop in West Africa is likely to keep prices depressed in the near term. Ivory Coast’s bean arrival at the ports from the start of the season to August 20, was 12.6% higher than the previous year.

As a result, Rabobank believes cocoa prices are unlikely to rally a lot above $2000 per MT in the short-term, however, they are bullish in the long-term due to increasing demand.

“The further we go in time, the more bullish our forecast gets,” said Carlos Mera, a commodities analyst with the bank, reports confectionerynews.

In September, the ICCO said: “Major chocolate manufacturers have generally reported improved sales volumes and the low international cocoa beans price is anticipated to encourage cocoa processing activities.”

The sales of candy in the US was up 1.4% year over year and the trend was showing signs of improvement, as the latest four weeks sales increased 2.8% year over year, according to IRI/Bloomberg Intelligence, the Morningstar reported on August 25.

Low prices are pinching the major producers

Ivory Coast and Ghana, which account for over 60% of the global supply of cocoa are struggling due to the fall in cocoa prices. Therefore, they plan to build warehouses to stock the beans during bumper crop season and release them in the market, according to the demand, thereby increasing their influence over cocoa pricing.

“Must we continue on this path, flooding the market with beans in abundance and driving down prices to the detriment of our economies and people? We don’t think so,” said Narcisse Sepy Yessoh, chief of staff to Ivory Coast Trade Minister Souleymane Diarrassouba, reports Reuters.

They have sought a loan of $1.2 billion from the African Development Bank for the above activity, which is likely to be approved by the end of this year and the stocking is likely to start in the 2018/2019 season.

This will put a floor beneath cocoa prices in the medium-term.

How does the technical picture look?

The long-term chart of cocoa futures shows a trading range between $1800 to $3400. This is a well-defined range. An attempt to breakout the range failed in 2011, similarly, attempts to breakdown of the range failed between May and July of this year.

The risk to reward ratio to play the range is attractive. We have a well-defined stop loss below the lows of the range, whereas, our target objective is a rally back to the upper end of the range. However, it will be difficult for the readers to hold cocoa futures for the long-term. Therefore, the next best way is to play it through the two available ETNs, NIB and CHOC.

As NIB is more liquid, we prefer to invest in it. Let’s look at its chart.

Unlike cocoa futures, NIB broke below the lows made in end-2011 and formed a new low at $21.17. It has formed a bearish descending triangle pattern, which will complete on a close below the $21.17 levels. Therefore, we shall initiate 50% of our trade when NIB breaks out of the triangle and 50% of the positions on dips. Let’s determine the specific levels from the daily charts.

NIB has fallen below the $22 levels four times since May of this year. The downtrend line has been a major hurdle to cross. On Friday, NIB again returned from the downtrend line. Therefore, if it again falls closer to $22 levels, a long position with 50% allocation can be initiated. The remaining 50% position can be initiated on a breakout of the descending triangle pattern. The positions can be closed if NIB breaks down and closes below 21 for three days in a row. Once NIB breaks out of $27 levels, its next technical target is $33, though its long-term target remains $45.

 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 9 rated postsRakesh Upadhyay is a Technical Analyst and Portfolio Consultant for The Summit Group. He has more than a decade of experience as a private trader. His philosophy is to use technical analysis for momentum trading and fundamental analysis for long-term positions. Rakesh likes to keep himself fit by lifting weights and considers himself to be a spiritual person.




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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. gullyfoyle

    September 24, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    rakesh, an interesting trade and a pun title. Love it.

    btw that FMSA trade was a beauty. Thanks for making me aware of it.

    Also, I was eating chocolate while reading this article.

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      September 24, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Hi gullyfoyle,

      Ha Ha, you already seem to be helping the cocoa trade by eating chocolates. I am glad you benefitted from the FMSA trade. Hope to dig a few more such trades.

  2. felix

    September 24, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Hi Rakesh,

    FMSA advice was great. Good job! This advice sound nice too.

    Thanks!

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      September 25, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Hi felix,

      Thank you. Let’s hope this trade also turns out profitable for you.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

  3. felix

    September 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Rakesh,

    what do you think that could be the target price of FMSA?

    Thanks

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      September 25, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      Hello felix,

      What is your holding period? Are you looking at it as an investment or a short-term trade?

  4. mvppvm_07

    September 25, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    It seems that growers may have incentive to increase production if the warehousing funding comes through for Ghana & Ivory Coast.
    1. Doesn’t the possibility of more acreage for growing beans counter-balance the implied stability of predictable product in warehouses?
    2. Any info on the quality degradation (if any) of “beans in bags” once they’re being stored in warehouses?
    3. Do the major growers have capacity and/or authorization to increase production if they choose?

    I am interested in some source material more than a yes/no response, although I’ll gladly digest your view on these questions. “Teach me to fish” request, really.

    Good substance to your article, by the way.

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      September 25, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Hello mvppvm_07,

      You have valid questions. Let me answer them to the best of my ability.

      1. If we think from a farmer’s perspective, he wants a good price for his produce. If price of cocoa is high in the previous year, he is most likely to use all the acreage available to him for growing cocoa. He is not concerned whether the produce goes to the warehouse or to the end consumer. Once he sells the produce, that is the end of it. For him only price matters.

      2. Now, on the second issue. Warehouses. Unlike oil, which can be stored for ages in containers, beans are a perishable commodity. Therefore, if the warehouses are only being stocked, either the beans will rot or they will have to be sold at low prices. Therefore, managing the stock in the warehouse is a delicate balance.

      3. The approximate life of stored cocoa beans is six to nine months, according to this source. https://www.leaf.tv/articles/storage-shelf-life-of-raw-cacao-beans/

      4. There is nothing stopping them from increasing their production. However, before storing beans, the producers are likely to take the consumers into confidence.

      If you have any more queries, please feel free to ask me. Our whole idea is that you become better investors. Whatever little knowledge I have, I will be happy to share it with you.

      And, thank you for the appreciation of the article.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

  5. felix

    September 25, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Rakesh,

    thanks for your prompt reply. My hold time usually is several weeks.

    Best,

  6. Rakesh Upadhyay

    September 25, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Hello felix,

    As the stock has broken out of $4.23 levels, it is likely to rally to $4.9 in the next few weeks. If held for a few months, a move to $6 or higher is likely.

    With warm regards
    Rakesh Upadhyay

  7. mvppvm_07

    September 29, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Rakesh,

    Thanks for the answers to my questions. Solid response and good information. I appreciate your approach to the due diligence you’ve done. Here’s to chocolate. Cheers.

    • Rakesh Upadhyay

      October 4, 2017 at 9:30 am

      Hello mvppvm_07,

      Thank you. I hope the chocolate trade turns out profitable.

      With warm regards
      Rakesh Upadhyay

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Commodities

Oil Prices are Surging Again as Supply Pressures Build

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Crude oil is on track for its fourth gain in five days after U.S. government data showed a much larger than expected draw in commercial crude inventories last week, adding to growing evidence of supply pressures.

Oil Price Update

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October settlement rose $1.68, or 2.6%, yo $67.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The black commodity is on track for its highest settlement in 12 days after prices plunged to multi-month lows last week. The U.S. benchmark has gained 4.5% over the past five days.

Brent crude, the international futures contract, rose $1.68, or 2.3%, to $74.31 a a barrel on London’s ICE futures exchange. Brent futures have returned 4.8% over the last five days.

Inventories Drop

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Wednesday that commercial crude inventories fell by 5.836 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 18. Analysts in a median estimate had called for a decline of 1.497 million barrels. Inventories spiked by 6.805 million barrels the previous week as imports surged.

In gasoline, EIA reported a build of 1.2 million barrels and an average production of 10.2 million barrels per day.

EIA’s report corroborated separate industry data showing a large draw in inventories last week. The American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday reported a decline of 5.17 million barrels. According to analysts, this may have sparked the early morning rally leading up to the EIA report.

Earlier in the week, the U.S. government announced it would sell 11 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep the market well supplied in anticipation of renewed sanctions on Iran.

Dollar Softens

The U.S. dollar’s recent struggle to hold 13-month highs has also contributed to crude’s upward momentum. The U.S. dollar index (DXY), which tracks the greenback’s performance against a basket of six currencies, declined 0.2% to 95.10, a fresh two-week low. Since peaking at 96.73 on Aug. 14, DXY has declined 1.7%.

DXY has gained 3.1% since New Year’s Day in what has been a dramatic reversal for the greenback, which got off to one of the worst starts to a year in decades.

Oil and the dollar often exhibit an inverse relationship due to the fact that futures contracts are priced in greenbacks. A decline in the value of the dollar makes oil futures more attractive for holders of other currencies.

Global trade tensions and multiple interest rate hikes on the home front are expected to keep the dollar on firm footing in the near term. Next month, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates for the third time this year, possibly paving the way for a fourth upward adjustment in December.

Based on Fed Fund futures prices, the likelihood of a September rate hike is currently pegged at 96%. The probability of another lift-off in December is 62.8%.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 610 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Analysis

Platinum Update: Faces Life or Death Showdown

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The Platinum/US Dollar (XPT/USD) pair has been in a decade-long downtrend. In July 2008, the pair broke out of a double top pattern on the weekly chart after taking out support of $1,850. There were numerous attempts to reverse the trend and break out of the slump. However, every single effort was denied as bears held $1,850 resistance. As a result, XPT/USD is now trading around $800.

While bears seem to have the upper hand, there’s a case for a bullish reversal. In this article, we explore the bearish and bullish scenarios for the XPT/USD pair.

The Bearish Case for Platinum

In technical analysis, the prevailing trend remains until there’s a clear sign of trend reversal. As mentioned, XPT/USD is still in a downtrend. The downtrend was recently confirmed by a breakout from sideways consolidation on the daily chart in June 2018.


XPT/USD daily chart

The breakout quickly brought XPT/USD down to $800 support. While bulls are managing to hold on, it appears that their mettle will be tested soon.

Large Descending Triangle on the Monthly

The descending triangle is often a continuation pattern with a bearish bias. The lower highs of this pattern put enormous pressure on the support that it eventually snaps. We see this pattern emerging on the monthly chart of Platinum/US Dollar.

XPT/USD monthly chart

The pattern is enormous. It is large enough to keep many retail investors on the sidelines. From the looks of it, XPT/USD appears to have just completed the E-wave or the final dead cat bounce. With a new lower high in place, bulls are in for the fight of their life at $800.

The Bullish Case for Platinum

The good news for the bulls is that not all descending triangles are bearish. Sometimes, bulls use the price compression at the apex to take out the resistance.

The key issue to understand is that the pattern must be triggered first. If bears take out $800, then the market sinks deeper. If bulls breach the resistance, then that might just be enough to kickstart a bull run.

Double Bottom on the Monthly

If bulls win this battle, then many investors will look at the possibility of a double bottom reversal pattern on the monthly chart.

Possible double bottom of XPT/USD

The preservation of $800 support amidst the threat of a huge descending triangle paints a bullish picture. It should send a reverberating message that $800 is bull territory. This would attract all types of investors and may generate sufficient momentum to push the market back up to previous highs and create a double bottom reversal pattern.

Bottom Line

Bulls and bears are bound to have a showdown at the $800 support level. Whoever wins this fight gets to control the market in the coming months or even years. Bears have the upper hand but it looks like bulls have what it takes to pull out one big surprise.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.6 stars on average, based on 237 rated postsKiril is a financial professional with 4+ years of experience in financial writing, analysis and product ownership. He has passed all three CFA exams on first attempt and has a bachelor's degree with a specialty in finance. Kiril’s current focus is on cryptocurrencies and ETFs, as he does his own crypto research and is the subject matter expert at ETFdb.com. He also has his personal website, InvestorAcademy.org where he teaches people about the basics of investing. His ultimate goal is to help people with limited knowledge of finance and investments to create investment portfolios easily, and in line with their unique circumstances.




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Commodities

Gold Price Is Getting Crushed as Dollar Reaches New 2018 Highs

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Gold’s brisk selloff deepened Thursday, as investors put higher interest rates on the front burner following two days of testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Gold Price Levels

According to Bloomberg data, the price of gold bottomed at $1,212.70 a troy ounce on Thursday, extending a three-month selloff that has shaved 11% from the yellow metal’s value. Gold peaked slightly above $1,360 in March and April before plunging over the next three months.

Bullion is trading at its lowest level in over a year, with technical charts putting the next major support level around $1,200-$1,202 an ounce.

Silver, which often trades in the direction of gold, was off more than 2% Thursday to a low of $15.19 a troy ounce. The grey metal later recovered around $15.30 but was still down more than 12% from January’s settlement high of $17.61.

Dollar Rally Intensifies

A surging dollar has largely underpinned the massive exodus out of gold over the last three months. The U.S. dollar index (DXY), which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of currencies, has gained nearly 7% compared to three months ago. DXY is up 3.6% for the year, more than offsetting its worst annual start in decades.

On Thursday, the dollar index rose more than half a percent to a high of 95.65, its best level of the year.

The dollar’s strength combined with Brexit woes triggered a fresh slide in the British pound, which fell on Thursday to its lowest since August.

The Canadian dollar declined sharply on tariff fears, sending the USD/CAD currency pair to its highest level of the month.

A stronger U.S. currency makes the purchase of gold and other commodities more costly for international buyers, which reduces their relative demand. On Wall Street, investors have shown a renewed penchant for stocks in anticipation of a strong earnings quarter.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday wrapped up his semiannual testimony before Congress where he fielded questions on the economy, protectionism and cryptocurrency. Although Powell didn’t strike an overly hawkish tone, he left little doubt about the central bank’s plan to raise short-term interest rates.

On Wednesday, Powell told lawmakers they can expect several years of economic growth under the current policy regime.

“With appropriate monetary policy, the job market will remain strong and inflation will stay near 2% over the next several years,” Powell said in prepared remarks.

The central bank “believes that – for now – the best way forward is to keep gradually raising the federal funds rate” in a way that keeps pace with the economic recovery, he added.

Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members will next meet July 31-Aug. 1 to set short-term interest rates. No change is expected before September.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 610 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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