COT: Speculators rotate from gold to industrial metals COT: Speculators rotate from gold to industrial metals COT: Speculators rotate from gold to industrial metals

COT: Speculators rotate from gold to industrial metals

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 Tuesday, September 13. A week that ended with the US CPI surprise which helped trigger renewed stock market weakness and bond yield strength while the commodity sector in general traded higher led by industrial linked metals and the grains sector.

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 Tuesday, September 13. A week that ended with the US CPI surprise which helped trigger renewed stock market weakness and bond yield strength. The dollar traded softer led by gains in the euro and Swiss Franc while the commodity sector generally traded higher led by the industrial metal and grain sectors.


The Bloomberg Commodity index traded up 2.2% during the reporting week to last Tuesday, September 13 with gains seen across all sectors with the exception of softs. The metal sector was particularly strong, especially those with an industrial link such as silver, platinum and copper. The energy sector was mixed while a US government report supported strong gains across the grains sector led by soybeans. 

Responding to these predominantly positive price performances, speculators increased bullish bets in 15 out of the 24 major commodity futures tracked in this by 70k lots to a 1.08 million. The bulk of the change being driven by short covering (49k lots) as opposed to fresh longs (21k lots), reflecting a market that remains concerned about the global economic outlook and its impact on demand for key commodities.


Crude oil’s current rangebound behavior was reflected in the limited changes seen in the overall net long. A week of small gains helped lift the net long in WTI and Brent crude by 13.4k lots to 341.5k lots and within the narrow 328k to 345k range seen during the past four weeks. The three fuel product contracts saw light net selling while the net short in natural gas rose 22% to 60k lots.


The sector saw an unusual strong amount of switching from gold to metals with an industrial link. The gold position flipped back to a net short of 11.3k lots, just a few hundred lots above a 40-month low, with additional selling likely to have been triggered by the technical break below $1680 that followed a couple of days later. The near 9% rally in silver from a two-year low helped trigger a 70% reduction in the net short to 17.1k while the platinum net short was cut in half to 9.3k lots while speculators turned the least negative on copper in three months after cutting their short by 61% to 4.4k lots. 


The latest supply and demand (WASDE) update on September 12 together with concerns about the Ukraine grain deal helped support another week of buying across the grains sector with the combine long rising 10% to 492k lots. Especially the steep drop in soybeans ending stocks forecast by the US Department of Agriculture helped drive strong gains and net buying across the three soy contracts of beans, oil and meal. Corn was bought for a seventh week while wheat traders, despite a 5.3% rally maintained a net short in CBOT following a small reduction in the net short of less than 5%. 

Softs were mixed with the sugar long getting a 75% boost to 30.5k while the cocoa net short jumped to a 2 ½-year high at 36.4k lots, this despite having trading sideways for the past three months, most of the time between $2300 and $2400 per tons. Global growth concerns helped trigger a second week of long liquidation in both coffee and cotton. 


Speculators increased bullish dollar bets for a fourth week with the aggressive adding of fresh shorts in the yen (-22.5k) and sterling (-17.7k) being partly offset by significant and continued short-covering in the euro (+24.5k). Overall the dollar long against nine IMM currency futures and the Dollar index reached a six-week high at $21.3 billion. 

During the last two reporting weeks which included the euro’s unsuccessful attempt to break lower through €0.99, the net short has seen a 75% reduction to a near three-month low at 11.8k on a combination of fresh longs and short positions being reduced. 

A widening gap between FOMC and Bank of Japan policies helped weaken the Japanese yen by 1%, the result being a 39% increase in the net yen short to 80.7k lots, a 14-week high. 

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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