At a Glance
- The commodity markets shifted from a low volatility environment to the opposite to end the first half of the year, resulting in big gains for some traders
- Stocks, gold, grains and bitcoin prices surged at the end of June
Regardless of the chosen trading strategy or even the instruments traded; results generally cycle from feast to famine. A friend of mine, Linda Raschke, once said: “The minute you think you have found the key to trading, I promise you the markets will change the lock.”
The roller coaster ride that comes with any given futures or options trading strategy is not unlike how the markets themselves behave. If you need a reminder, check out a monthly crude oil chart spanning the previous two decades. The price of West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude oil has seen the $20s and the mid-$100s, and to and fro.
Two Kinds of Traders
Futures trend traders tend to make money as markets are trending, which is generally less than 30 percent of the time, but they experience frequent and expensive stop outs in a sideways trading environment.
Futures swing traders attempting to buy the dips and sell the rips, face moderately higher win percentages relative to trend traders but their strategy stands to lose substantially during trending markets.
In my opinion, the late June market conditions were ripe for trend trading strategies and potentially harmful to swing traders. Options traders, on the other hand, must pay attention to volatility. We’ve witnessed the implied volatility built into option premiums shift from extreme lows to extreme highs.
As a result, option sellers were likely caught off-guard while option buyers might have enjoyed windfall profits. If you are not familiar with implied volatility, it is the amount of option premium traders price into options to account for expectations of future volatility. When implied volatility shifts, it can cause nearly worthless options to suddenly become valuable beyond belief.
June Was A Historic Month
This type of environment generally can’t sustain itself in the long run. Bear in mind we saw one of the best performing June’s in the history of the stock market, and gold has also had a historically positive month. Treasuries and short-term interest rate products such as the Eurodollar and Fed Funds futures have experienced nearly parabolic rallies and Bitcoin has without argue, gone parabolic. Further, the grain markets shifted from multi-year lows to dramatic annual highs.
It is impossible to predict the future, but we can look to these June trends for what we might expect from the second half of the year. No trend lasts, and trading strategies will change, but one thing is for sure: the market will always change the locks.