CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Tuesday said corn and wheat prices could continue to rise due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaning on analysis from Carley Garner, senior commodity market strategist at DeCarley Trading.
“The charts, as interpreted by Carley Garner, suggest that both wheat and corn prices are headed higher here. Maybe much higher. And that is the last thing we want to see, but we might have to get used to it,” the “Mad Money” host said.
Cramer said that Ukraine and Russia account for a third for the world’s wheat production, and while this year’s crop was planted before war broke out between the two countries, harvesting and shipping could be a challenge due to high energy costs and safety concerns.
Current prices are the highest they’ve been since 2008, when a slew of factors including high oil prices and unusually dry weather in the United States led wheat to leap to $13 a bushel from the $3 to $6 it hovered around for decades prior, Cramer said.
Garner believes this jump was “even faster and more disorderly,” Cramer said. Additionally, because future exchanges have price limits on how much a commodity can move in a session, wheat can be “locked limit-up,” which means the price has moved to its limit in a day, and short-sellers who don’t want to sell at the limit price are held in that position until the next day.
This phenomenon happened during the week after the Russia-Ukraine war began, which Garner believes helped drive up wheat prices to $13.60 with little trading.
Here’s a weekly chart of wheat futures and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s commitments of traders data. The COT report shows the net positions of small speculators, large speculators and commercial hedgers.
Here, Garner sees that because of locked limit-up trading sessions, money managers are net long by only 12,000 contracts, Cramer said. In the past, they could go up to 50,000, according to Garner, which means that “if institutional money managers want to bet on wheat here, they’ve still got a ton of dry powder,” Cramer said.
Garner believes prices are going to continue to increase, Cramer said.
Here is the daily chart of the May wheat futures:
After prices peaked on March 8 and underwent six limit-up moves, wheat futures declined sharply, according to Garner. But prices still stayed above wheat’s 20-day moving average, while the Relative Strength Index, a momentum indicator, pulled back from overbought territory while staying positive. This means wheat has “got more room to run,” Cramer said.
“As long as it holds above its floor of support at $10.30 a bushel, which is down roughly 90 cents from here, Garner believes wheat can make another run at its highs over the coming weeks or months,” Cramer said.
Although Ukraine accounts for 4% of the global output of corn, “no trader wants to sell corn when the wheat board is lighting up,” Cramer said. He added that corn was able to rally because corn-based ethanol is currently cheaper than oil, which has surged in price in recent weeks.
Here is the monthly chart of the May corn futures:
Garner believes the corn rally could end soon but still be hard-hitting, said Cramer, adding that if corn futures surpass the price ceiling of resistance around $7.70, it could approach record levels of $8.50.
“She doesn’t expect corn to burst through that level, but if it somehow manages to keep roaring, then she doesn’t see any more resistance until $10.50. That would be a new record. If corn gets to that level, it means we’re dealing with an insane level of inflation,” Cramer said.
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