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Three Must-See Reports for Futures Traders

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April 1, 2012

Any day of the week traders can tackle a mountain of futures reports. The downside? You risk being buried under an avalanche of data. The following reports are known for timely info. They just might keep you efficient (and sane), while potentially energizing your trading.

1) Oil's Petroleum Status Report

Every Wednesday, 10:30 EST, the U.S. Energy Information Administration releases the Weekly Petroleum Status Report. The report details how refinery production, inventories and prices, affect oil and stock futures. It also details the effects on currencies like the British pound (nearly 20 % of U.K.GDP is from British Petroleum). And it reveals the impact on bonds and interest rates due to inflation. Pay special attention to oil inventories, because greater-than-expected supply tends to hurt oil prices while helping stocks (the opposite is often true for smaller supplies). An honorable mention for monitoring oil goes to the dollar (/DX), which can have a significant impact on the price of oil.

2) US Treasury Auctions

US debt is issued through auctions by the US Treasury, according to a complex schedule that you can find in the Economic Calendar on the thinkorswim® platform's MarketWatch page (Figure 1).

Futures trader reports

FIGURE 1:

Treasury auction events in the thinkorswim® platform's MarketWatch calendar. For illustrative purposes only.

 

If you're trading both treasury and dollar futures, this insight is important. In these auctions, no one knows exactly what the yields will be. So like with oil, the difference between guesses, expectations, and reality can impact treasury futures. There's also the scary possibility of a failed auction. This rare, market-moving hurricane occurs when investors don't step up to buy debt. It can catalyze an economic crisis, and immediately causes waves in the futures market.

3) USDA Crop Reports

Crazy rain in South America, demand in Beijing, farmer planting intentions, and a thousand other things contribute to supply, demand, and price in the USDA's crop reports. These reports are bread-and-butter data for grains traders. They include an annual Crop Production report, and a monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand report. The context is blue skies and corn fields, but the information is just as essential as oil and treasury reports.

Making Sense of It All

Like most economic announcements, each report reveals the stand-off between expectation and reality. And there can easily be information overload. Make a habit of tuning in every time these reports roll out and make every effort to take the time necessary to stay up to date on any other resources that can assist your analysis. The more you read, the more you analyze, the more you'll learn what to look for in your futures trades and related “inter-market” futures. Your analysis and knowledge can help you see the bigger picture and progress as a trader. Overtime, you might start to make better decisions and save time while you learn to mine the data gems from the stones.

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