Futures Market Winners/Losers of 2013

With a scant few hours until the ball drops in Times Square – the quote machines have gone silent, meaning we can wrap a nice bow on 2013 market performance and see where the chips fell. All those who had the 3x Long Nikkei, 3x Short Corn trade on in 2013 raise your hands, you’re on your way to induction in the trading hall of fame (or running the next hot ETF). Per our preferred quote site, Finviz.com, we find the following 2013 performance stats for futures markets

[Please note – Finviz does some weird things around contract rolls, which can make their percentage gains over longer periods different than what would be found using a continuous contract or the cash/spot market, nonetheless, we feel it is representative of each market’s 2013 movements]:

Finviz Commodity ExposureChart Courtesy: Finviz.com
(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)

Some of the highlights as we see them:

  • It was a roughly 50/50 split between up and down markets this year (20 of 39 [51%] up), compared with 80% in 2012, 40% in 2011 and 85% in 2010
  • The top 5 spots were all held by stock index futures, with the DJIA, S&P, Nasdaq, and Nikkei all posting over 26% gains.
  • Corn was slaughtered, down nearly -40% to capture the worst performer title
  • Supposed safe havens Gold and Silver were both down more than 28%, finishing the year near 3 year lows
  • Only 3 non stock index markets were up more than 15% (Orange Juice, Cocoa, and Natural Gas)
  • 8 markets were down more than -15% (Sugar, Yen, Soy Oil, Wheat, Coffee, Gold, Silver, and Corn)
  • Gold, Silver, Platinum, Corn, Soy Oil, Wheat, Yen, 30yr Bonds, 10yr Notes, and the Canadian and Aussie Dollars all finished the year near their lows
  • Stock Indices, Cattle, Euro, Swiss, and British Pound finished the year near their highs
  • For all the Taper, QE, money printing, rising interest rates, etc. talk, the US Dollar was essentially flat for the year

What will 2014 bring?  A crash in the US Dollar as the US fails to get its financial house in order?  A sharp rebound in grain prices?  Another losing year for gold? The much expected sell off in US treasuries? None of the above?

Luckily, managed futures investors don’t need to know the answers to those questions in order to have a successful 2014. The managers don’t even need to know the answers, they just need to be able to identify and capture any such moves when they happen (no small task, to be sure; as we’ve seen in recent years….but more than a few will be up to the task).


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