COT: COT: COT:

COT: Speculators cut oil long to pre-covid low

Ole Hansen

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 August 9. A relatively quiet week where a continued improvement in risk appetite drove stocks higher while softening the dollar. Some commodity positions, with crude oil the major exceptions, showed signs of having reached a trough following weeks of heavy selling


Saxo Bank publishes weekly Commitment of Traders reports (COT) covering leveraged fund positions in commodities, bonds and stock index futures. For IMM currency futures and the VIX, we use the broader measure called non-commercial.
This summary highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities and forex during the week to August 9. A relatively quiet summer holiday impacted week where stocks traded higher ahead of last week’s CPI and PPI print after better than expected economic data helped reduce US recession fears while the market was looking for inflation to roll over. The dollar traded a tad softer, bond yields firmed up while commodities showed signs of having reached a trough following weeks of heavy selling. 

Commodities


Hedge funds were net buyers for a second week with demand concentrated in metals and agriculture while the energy sector saw continued selling. Overall the net long across 24 major commodity futures rose for a second week after recently hitting a two-year low. Buying was concentrated in gold, platinum, corn and livestock with crude oil and wheat being to most notable contracts seeing net selling.

Energy: Speculators responded to continued crude oil weakness by cutting bullish bets in WTI and Brent crude by a combined 14% to a pre-Covid low at 304.5k lots. The reductions were primarily driven by long liquidation in both contracts following a demand fear driven breakdown in prices. Gas oil and gasoline longs were also reduced. 

Metals: Buying of metals extended to a second week led by gold which saw a 90% jump in the net long to 58.2k lots. Overall, net short positions were maintained in silver, platinum and copper with the latter seing a small amount of fresh selling due to profit taking on recently established longs. 

Agriculture: Grains were mixed with corn and soybeans seeing continued buying ahead of Friday's WASDE  report while the CBOT corn net short jumped 36% to 20k lotsand the Kansas net long was cut to a two-year low. The total grain long rose for second week having stabilised around 300k lots having collapse from a near record 800k lot on April 22.

Soft commodities saw elevated short positions in sugar and cocoa being maintained with price gains in coffee and not least cotton supporting a small increase in their respective net longs. This before Friday's surge in cotton which left it up 13% on the week after the US Department of Agriculture slashed the US crop forecast by 19% to a 12-year low. Driven by a high level of abandonment of fields in the drought-stricken Southwest. 

Forex

In the week to August 9 when the dollar traded close to unchanged against a basket of major currencies, speculators increased to three the number of weeks of continued dollar selling. The pace of selling even accelerated to the highest since January after the gross long against ten IMM futures and the Dollar Index was slashed by 20% to $17.4 billion, a nine week low. Most notable selling of the greenback was seen against GBP and JPY followed by EUR and CHF. The Japanese yen, under pressure for months as yield differentials to the dollar widened saw its net short being cut by 22% to a 17-month low.

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 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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