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NY futures trade sideways
16
May '08
NY futures traded sideways this week, with July dropping 72 points to close at 70.13 cents, while December gave back 51 points to close at 78.84 cents.

It was another boring week, with the average daily trading volume barely exceeding 15'000 futures contracts, while options did not even reach an average of 9'000 lots a day. Traders seem to accept the 70 cents level in spot futures as "fair value", since the market is well supported both from a technical and a fundamental point of view.

Every time we dip below 70 cents, activity in the cash market picks up, as mills are quite happy to book some business. On the other hand, every attempt to raise this price floor has so far failed as enquiries quickly fizzle at higher levels and therefore we currently have a futures market that is stuck in a relatively tight range.

A look at volatility confirms that the market is beginning to accept this narrow range, because July volatility has dropped precipitously and at 24% it is currently just about half of what it was during the wild week in early March, while December volatility is still a bit higher at around 28%.

When we take a look at what the various market participants have been up to over the last two months, we notice that all of them have been reducing their respective positions. The trade accounted for the biggest drop, as it reduced its exposure in the futures and options market from 21.2 mio bales net short on March 4th to just 15.4 mio bales net short on May 6th, according to the CFTC 'Commitment of Traders' report.

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