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COT: Dollar long jumps on EU election woes; Funds start rebuilding crude long

Picture of Ole Hansen
Ole Hansen

Head of Commodity Strategy

Key points:

  • Positions and changes made by speculators in commodities and forex in the week to June 11
  • Dollar buyers returned with a vengeance, led by selling of euro on French election worries
  • Crude oil strength saw hedge funds abandon recently established short positions
  • Silver and platinum suffer large reductions after prices slumped below levels that recently saw strong hedge fund demand
  • Broad grains sector weakness drove second week of selling, led by corn and soybeans

Forex

After six weeks of selling, dollar buyers returned with a vengeance as the Bloomberg Dollar index gained 1.1%, primarily due to EUR and MXN weakness. Overall the gross dollar long against eight IMM futures and the DXY jumped 55% to USD 17.6 billion. As mentioned, the EUR saw heavy selling in response to French political turmoil to the tune of 24.2k contracts (USD 3.3 billion equivalent). In addition, the CAD also saw aggressive selling, especially after a bumper US jobs report sent the dollar broadly higher, resulting in the biggest weekly sale of CAD futures (37.9k contracts) since 2018, lifting the net short to a record 129.5k contracts (USD 9.4 billion equivalent). Traders also sold yen (6.5k), AUD (13.5k) and MXN (5.7k), but bought sterling (8.9k), CHF (2.9k), and NZD (3.8k).

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Non-commercial IMM futures positions versus the dollar in week to June 11

COT on Commodities

The latest Commitment of Traders (COT) report covered the week to June 11 when the Bloomberg Commodity Index rose 1.5%, the dollar strengthened by around 1% and bond yields traded higher in response to a surprisingly strong US jobs report, causing some jitters ahead of last week's FOMC meeting, the result of which was known the day after data to this report was compiled.

On a sector level, the mentioned gain was solely driven by broad strength across the energy market with crude oil rallying around 6% as buyers returned below USD 80 in Brent and USD 75 in WTI, while natural gas surged higher by 21% in response to increased demand from domestic consumers and towards LNG exports. All the other sectors lost altitude with industrial and precious metals under pressure from the stronger dollar and technical selling from momentum focused funds. The grains sector meanwhile saw renewed selling led by wheat while softs traded mixed.

Hedge funds responded to these developments by adding length to crude oil, gas oil, natural gas, sugar and cocoa while selling all metals, especially silver and platinum. Most grain contracts except corn saw renewed price weakness, leading to increased short selling of soybeans, soy oil and CBOT wheat, while the position changes in softs were relatively muted, except cocoa where buyers lifted the cocoa net long amid fresh tight-supply led buying.

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Managed money long, short and net positions in the week to June 11
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Energy: Speculators covered recent sold positions in response to a strong 6% price rebound. Overall the combined net long jumped 66.4k to 264.4k, and back above the 200k level which had only been broken briefly on two occasions during the past 12 years. The gas oil net long more than doubled while a 21% rally in natgas helped boost the net long.
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Metals: Another week of limited gold selling with specs enjoying a wide price cushion, having bought the bulk of their positions back in Fed/Mch at much lower levels. Funds holding silver did not enjoy the same protection and were forced to cut under-water positions by 17% to a three-month low at 29.6k. Copper saw a limited reaction with long and short positions both being reduced. The PGMs suffered with the platinum long being cut in half while the palladium short hit a fresh record at 16k.
17olh_cot5
Grains saw broad selling extend to a second week, lifting the combined net short in corn, soybeans and wheat to 333k contracts, the bulk of which being held in corn (-212k) and soybeans (-76k).
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In softs, the main change was a 25% reduction in the sugar short, renewed buying of cocoa while the cotton short jumped 49% to a near five-year high. The coffee long was maintained at an elevated 62k despite a near 5% price slump.

What is the Commitments of Traders report?

The COT reports are issued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the ICE Exchange Europe for Brent crude oil and gas oil. They are released every Friday after the U.S. close with data from the week ending the previous Tuesday. They break down the open interest in futures markets into different groups of users depending on the asset class.

Commodities: Producer/Merchant/Processor/User, Swap dealers, Managed Money and other
Financials: Dealer/Intermediary; Asset Manager/Institutional; Leveraged Funds and other
Forex: A broad breakdown between commercial and non-commercial (speculators)

The main reasons why we focus primarily on the behavior of speculators, such as hedge funds and trend-following CTA's are:

  • They are likely to have tight stops and no underlying exposure that is being hedged
  • This makes them most reactive to changes in fundamental or technical price developments
  • It provides views about major trends but also helps to decipher when a reversal is looming

Do note that this group tends to anticipate, accelerate, and amplify price changes that have been set in motion by fundamentals. Being followers of momentum, this strategy often sees this group of traders buy into strength and sell into weakness, meaning that they are often found holding the biggest long near the peak of a cycle or the biggest short position ahead of a through in the market.

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