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April 27, 2024 | Trading Desk Notes For April 27, 2024

Victor Adair, author of The Trading Desk Notes, began trading penny mining shares while attending the University of Victoria in 1970. He worked in the mining business in Canada and the Western United States for the next several years and also founded a precious metals trading company in 1974. He became a commodity broker in 1977 and a stock broker in 1978. Between 1977 and his retirement from the brokerage business in 2020 Victor held a number of trading, analytical and senior management roles in Canada and the USA. Victor started writing market analysis in the late 1970’s and became a widely followed currency analyst in 1983. He started doing frequent media interviews in the early 1980’s and started speaking at financial conferences in the 1990’s. He actively trades his own accounts from The Trading Desk on Vancouver Island. His personal website is

Is buying the Yen in anticipation of another “Plaza Accord” the Trade of the Year or just another attempt to catch a falling piano?

The BoJ did nothing at their scheduled meeting this week, and the Yen collapsed to a new 34-year low against the USD and hit an All-Time low against the Euro (which has only been around for 26 years.)

The Yen has fallen >50% against the USD since it made All-Time highs in 2012. It is down ~35% in the last three years.

The OECD calculates that the Yen is ~64% undervalued against the USD on a Purchasing Power Parity basis.


A weaker Yen contributes to rising tourism revenues (Japan is cheap, and the food is excellent!), increasing profit margins on exported goods (like cars to the USA) and rising import costs on things like oil.


Japanese people, institutions and corporations have substantial overseas investments (which puts downward pressure on the Yen when they convert to foreign currencies to make investments), and they will earn significant profits if/when they bring their money home and convert it back into Yen (converting foreign currencies into Yen will boost the Yen.)


Sophisticated investors have used the Yen as a funding currency in carry-trade investments (for instance, borrowing Yen at cheap rates and investing in Mexican Pesos at higher rates). Currency speculators who have shorted the Yen against virtually any other currency have made profits.


Speculators’ net short position in Yen futures is at a 9-year high, according to the Commitments of Traders Report (COT.) The CME Yen futures open interest has surged by ~20% to All-Time highs over the last month as the Yen fell ~5%, and the daily volume on Friday (following the BoJ meeting) was about double the recent average daily volume (X quarterly delivery periods).

I’ve traded currency futures for nearly fifty years, and one of my key observations has been that currency trends often run far longer than what seems to make any “sense,” and then they turn on a dime and go the other way.


Traders have referred to speculators selling Japanese bonds as the “widowmaker” trade for years. For most of the past twelve years, trying to bottom-pick the falling Yen has been another version of the “widowmaker” trade. Why is this time any different?


Two reasons: 1) Japanese and South Korean finance ministers met with American counterparts recently and warned about “excessive volatility in the FX markets,” and 2) speculators who are short Yen may be concerned that intervention will diminish their profits and they may decide to limit their risks by covering some of their short positions.


The “back story” on potential coordinated intervention (a la the Plaza Accord) may be less about the rising cost of Japanese energy imports and more about the “damage” that cheap Japanese imports are doing to American manufacturers.


Critics will point out that intervention won’t work without any real change in the “fundamentals,” and currency speculators will use higher Yen prices created by the intervention as an opportunity to reload (or add to) their short positions.

Other currencies

In addition to their bearish YEN positions, speculators in the currency futures market are very short CAD, AUD and CHF, are very long MEX, and are relatively neutral in the EUR.


Comex copper prices have surged to 2-year highs, up ~26% from February lows to this week’s highs. Open interest has jumped to near All-Time highs, and speculators’ positioning has soared from essentially flat to net long 66,000 contracts in the last seven weeks. Volume this month appears to be a record high, with still two days left in the month.

The COPX ETF of global copper miners has jumped to 13-year highs as investors react to the prevailing bullish supply/demand outlook for copper.


Comex gold futures rallied ~$250 (11%) from late March to mid-April All-Time highs but closed ~$100 below those highs this week. The frenzy of Chinese retail buying that spurred gold to its highs slowed this week following the imposition of higher margin requirements on the Shanghai futures market.

The Yen price of gold has nearly doubled in the past three years. In USD terms, it is up ~28%.

Natural gas

North American Natural Gas prices are near 25-year lows (at multi-decade lows on an inflation-adjusted basis) as supply is plentiful. Cheap and abundant natural gas gives North America a competitive advantage over countries with higher energy prices.

US Equities

After rallying ~30% from October to March, S&P futures fell ~7% to last week’s lows but recovered about half of those losses this week.

META’s quarterly report disappointed the market, and the share price fell on Thursday.

GOOG and MSFT had better-than-expected reports, and GOOG shares soared to new All-Time highs on Friday, reflecting a market cap of over $2 Trillion.

The CAT quarterly report disappointed the market, and the share price fell. This bellwether stock may be a window into the US economy outside Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Interest rates

Short- and long-term interest rates rose again this week (the 10-year yield touched a high of ~4.72%), and the forward market is pricing only one 25bps cut from the Fed before the end of the year.

My short-term trading

I started this week with a long CAD position I established last week. I closed that for a decent gain on Tuesday, with the CAD up about one cent from last week’s lows.


I shorted the S&P on Wednesday for a decent gain and bought it on Thursday for a modest profit. My net P+L for the week showed a respectable gain after a couple of weeks of slight losses. I was flat at the end of the week.

On my radar

The September Treasury Quarterly Refunding Announcement turned the bond market around from 16-year lows. The next QRA is on Monday.


The FOMC meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. No policy change is expected, but there may be some indications of future changes.


AAPL and AMZN report next week.


I may bet against the USD by buying one or more currencies with large speculative net short positions.

The Barney report

Barney sleeps in several different places throughout our house, and he never stays in one place for more than a couple of hours. Lately, he’s been coming into my bedroom about an hour before sunrise to wake me up. “Hey Papa, it’s time for our morning walk!”


My wife took this photo of him yesterday when they were on a walk along the Englishman River. What a handsome boy!

Listen to Victor talk about markets

Mike Campell and I discussed the currency markets, particularly the Yen, on the Moneytalks show this morning. We also talked about copper and natural gas. You can listen to the entire show here. My 6-minute spot with Mike starts around the one-hour seventeen-minute mark.


I did my monthly 30-minute interview with Jim Goddard on the This Week In Money show last Saturday. My friends Ross Clark and Danielle Park were also on that show. You can listen here.

The Archive



There’s a reason I put a link to Headsupguys in my Notes every week. I’ve had friends who took their own lives, and Headsupguys helps men struggling with depression.

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Victor Adair retired from the Canadian brokerage business in 2020 after 44 years and is no longer licensed to provide investment advice. Nothing on this website is investment advice for anyone about anything.

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April 27th, 2024

Posted In: Victor Adair Blog

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