While the short-lived bear-market rally amid the broader markets petered out as abruptly as it had formed, shares of just about every commodity-related equity continued to be mercilessly pummeled this week. The U.S. dollar has yet to show any real strength, so the week's flight from commodities is all the more perplexing.
Unloading commodities like they're mortgage-backed securities
After building a bullish recovery pattern while the Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM ) circus came to town, gold dipped briefly below $920. Mining stocks fell even further on a percentage basis, as illustrated by the 7% drop in shares of the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX ) . Two high-profile miners, Agnico-Eagle Mines and Freeport McMoRan (NYSE: FCX ) , both delivered disappointing earnings that might present buying opportunities.
Where is the gas leak?
Continuing a pattern observed last week, natural gas has fallen more than twice the distance that oil has. The plunge from $13.50 to $9 marks a 33% reversal. Despite robust earnings from XTO Energy (NYSE: XTO ) , and strength from rig operators Precision Drilling Trust and Nabors Industries, shares throughout the natural-gas space appear to be up for grabs. Oilfield-services giant Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI ) reported solid earnings as well.
Coal coming out of the mountains
When I think of coal mining, I picture a backdrop of scenic Appalachian mountains. Similar mountain peaks have been spotted across the charts of many coal stocks lately, with volatility having prevailed during this correction. After monumental earnings from both Fording Canadian Coal Trust (NYSE: FDG ) and Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI ) , shares of coal miners are showing some strength again on Friday.
In one of the more dramatic events of this week, shares of Russian steelmaker Mechel (NYSE: MTL ) tumbled more than 30% Thursday, after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticized the company for selling products abroad for half of what the company charges domestically. This is the latest in a series of indications from Russia that the superpower is keen to ensure access to its own raw-material wealth.