Commodity Prices Surge and Inflation Trade Gains Steam: Can This Be Trusted?

by: Bret Rosenthal

Is it a bear or a windmill we’re stalking?

You may find yourself asking this very question as the equity markets drift higher, seemingly oblivious to a myriad of negative news. Classic commentary such as “the market climbs a wall of worry” or “the trend is your friend” are being bandied about with increased regularity. Of course, these sayings are useless when the bottom falls out of the market, but for now they appear reassuring, as they add to the overwhelming feeling of complacency pervading the equity markets.

In the interest of remaining open-minded and having a strong desire to avoid Don Quixote’s fate, I will offer the following analysis that could buttress a case for continued equity price support.

Instead of relying on hackneyed phases and static commentary let’s focus on the building strength of the inflation trade. Yesterday, the FOMC minutes were released with the following headlines from Reuters:

FOMC Minutes Released: Fed says economic activity expanded at a moderate pace in early 2010, inflation is likely to be subdued for some time

Fed Minutes say if economic outlook worsened or trend inflation declined further, “extended period” of low rates could last “quite some time”

The Fed clearly feels that inflation is of no concern. Apparently, all FOMC members, with the exception of Hoenig, are unwilling or unable to read commodity price charts. Several key raw materials are experiencing impressive price appreciation as seen in the following charts:

  1. Copper


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  1. Crude Oil:


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  1. Platinum


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  1. Palladium


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If this commodity price surge continues, then conceivably equity prices could continue to grind higher as often happens at the beginning of an inflationary period.

You may notice that I did not include a Gold or Silver price chart in the above group. As you will see below, Gold and Silver prices have yet to hit a new high and will need to do so for the inflation trade theory to be legitimate.

  1. Gold


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  1. Silver


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Disclosure: No positions