COT: Crude oil and copper bought; gold sold ahead of FOMC
Head of Commodity Strategy
Summary: Our weekly Commitment of Traders update highlights future positions and changes made by hedge funds and other speculators across commodities and forex during the week to Tuesday, November 1, the day before Fed Chair Powell sent shivers across markets. Ahead of the meeting speculators cut bullish dollar bets to a 15-month low, in commodities buying was concentrated in crude oil, natural gas, copper and soybeans with gold, sugar and coffee seeing continued selling
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 reasons why we focus primarily on the behavior of the highlighted groups 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
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This summary highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities and forex during the week to Tuesday, November 1. The day before the FOMC delivered its fourth consecutive 75 basis rate hike in this cycle while pouring cold water on the markets hope for a slowdown after Fed Chair Powell said there is still some way to go and that incoming data means will help determine the “ultimate level” that the Fed funds reaches. In the reporting week prior to the meeting technology stocks had sold of on disappointing earnings while the dollar and US Treasury yields traded softer. The commodity sector was mixed with gains in industrial metals and grains being partly offset by softness elsewhere.
CommoditiesThe Bloomberg Commodity traded higher on the week with a small 0.6% gain reflecting a mixed market where gains in industrial metals and especially the grains sector was being offset by losses in softs and livestock. The energy sector traded lower with losses in natural gas and gas oil disguising an otherwise strong week for crude oil.
Speculators where net buyers of commodities with length being added to 13 out of the 24 commodity futures tracked in this, led by and concentrated in crude oil, natural gas , copper and soybeans. Selling was concentrated across the softs sector where all four contracts continued to be sold.
EnergySpeculators raised bullish crude oil bets by a combined 38k lots to 426k lots, an 18 week high. In the week both WTI and Brent rallied by more than 3% in response to OPEC+ production cuts and renewed optimism about demand in China, developments that helped attract fresh longs, primarily into Brent. Small profit taking reduced the net length in gas oil and gasoline. In natural gas a 7% price drop triggered profit taking among short sellers resulting in the net short falling by 21% to -68k lots.
The grains sector saw net buying for a second week lifting the combined long across six grains and soy contracts to a 19-week high at 553k lots. The bulk of the buying was led by the soybeans, soy meal and oil contracts with corn seeing a small increase in the net long. The 8% jump in wheat on Ukraine export worries did not alter the overall bearish view held by funds. Selling into strength they lifted the net short in Chicago wheat to -37k lots, the biggest short bet since the depth of the pandemic panic in June 2020.
The four major softs commodities continued to see heavy net selling, this week being led by 48% reduction in the sugar long to 44k lots. The cocoa net short extended to -43.7k lots and not far from a five-year high, a development that increasingly could trigger a sharp rebound should the technical and/or fundamental outlook turn more friendly. Weeks of coffee selling continued resulting in the net flipping back to a net short of -10.4k lots for the first time in 25 months. A similar situation in cotton where nine weeks of continued selling has taken the net close to neutral at just 5.4k lots.
In forex, flows turned decisively against the dollar, a day before Fed Chair Powell delivered his hawkish comments which only managed to trigger some temporary dollar strength. Before this reporting week, the Greenback had increasingly been losing steam against several of the nine IMM forex futures tracked in this report. The bulk of the net dollar selling had up until recently been mostly against the euro which since late August has seen €19 billion of net buying, reversing the net position from a 48k lots short to a 106k long. This past week buying accelerated with the net long jumping 41% to a 17 month high. Combined with an aggressive 24% reduction in the JPY net short and a 250% jump in the MXN net long, the combined dollar long ended up being reduced by 59% to just $5 billion, the weakest belief in a stronger dollar since August last year.
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