COT: Emerging caution despite continued strength COT: Emerging caution despite continued strength COT: Emerging caution despite continued strength

COT: Emerging caution despite continued strength

Ole Hansen

Head of Commodity Strategy

Summary:  Futures positions held and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex, bonds and stock indices up until last Tuesday, February 23. A week that saw growing unease across markets as bond yields continued to rise. A continued rally in commodities attracted profit taking from funds in both energy and metals while they added further length to an already record agriculture long.

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.

The below summary highlights futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex, bonds and stock indices up until last Tuesday, February 23. A week that saw emerging unease about the continued rise in bond yields that culminated last Thursday, two days after data for this report was compiled. Before then, the S&P 500 dropped 1.3% while the technology heavy Nasdaq slumped by 4.2%. The commodity sector managed another rise to a fresh 34-month high while the dollar traded softer before an end of week spike on emerging risk aversity. 


Ahead of the bond market turmoil last week, hedge funds had turned a bit more cautious on commodities. Despite seeing the Bloomberg Commodity index climb to a fresh 34-month high, the report shows that leveraged funds cut exposure to energy and metals. Overall however, the combined net long across 24 major commodity futures was unchanged at a record 2.7 million lots, representing a nominal value of $144.4 billion. This due to continued demand across the agriculture sector where the combined net long reached a fresh record at 1.3 million lots. The buying was led by sugar, coffee and soybeans on weather worries in Brazil. 

Most noticeable change considering the continued rally was in HG copper where speculators, despite seeing the metal rally 9%, cut their exposure by 19% to a 20-week low.

Energy: Emerging risk aversity despite strong price action was seen across the energy sector where all but one saw small net reductions. The combined crude oil long was reduced by 1.7k lots from a 2-1/2-year high to 736k lots.

Metals: Speculators reduced bullish copper bets while the price continued to surge higher to reach the highest level since 2011. The 19% reduction in the net-long to a 20-week low was primarily driven by longs being reduced with no sign of fresh short selling. Gold held steady at 83k lots, a 21-month low while both silver and platinum saw reductions. 

Agriculture: The combined long across the six grain and oilseed contracts rose by 10k lots to 796k lots, a seven-week high. Biggest moves in soybeans (+11k), wheat (+6k) and corn (-5k). All the four softs contracts saw strong buying led by sugar by sugar (+21k lots to 219k), Arabica coffee (+14k to 35k, a 22-week high), cocoa (+1k to 16k) and cotton (+4k to 72.4k and highest since August 2018).



In FX, speculative flows were very modest for a second week as dollar stayed range-bound before its end of week jump as rising bond and stock market volatility helped attract safe-haven and short covering. In the week to February, however, the overall dollar short ten IMM currency futures and the Dollar Index saw a small increase to $31.4 billion with buying of CHF and especially GBP being off-set by EUR and accelerated JPY selling.


Speculators maintained their Cboe VIX futures short at a 12 month high at 163k lots, just days before jumping on rising yields and lower stocks unease.

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



The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to Analysis permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website. This content is not intended to and does not change or expand on the execution-only service. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to Saxo News & Research and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to Saxo News & Research is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on Saxo News & Research or as a result of the use of the Saxo News & Research. Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. Saxo News & Research does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws.

Please read our disclaimers:
- Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (
- Full disclaimer (

Saxo Markets
40 Bank Street, 26th floor
E14 5DA
United Kingdom

Contact Saxo

Select region

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Trade Responsibly
All trading carries risk. To help you understand the risks involved we have put together a series of Key Information Documents (KIDs) highlighting the risks and rewards related to each product. Read more
Additional Key Information Documents are available in our trading platform.

Saxo Markets is a registered Trading Name of Saxo Capital Markets UK Ltd (‘SCML’). SCML is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Firm Reference Number 551422. Registered address: 26th Floor, 40 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DA. Company number 7413871. Registered in England & Wales.

This website, including the information and materials contained in it, are not directed at, or intended for distribution to or use by, any person or entity who is a citizen or resident of or located in the United States, Belgium or any other jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, availability or use would be contrary to applicable law or regulation.

It is important that you understand that with investments, your capital is at risk. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. It is your responsibility to ensure that you make an informed decision about whether or not to invest with us. If you are still unsure if investing is right for you, please seek independent advice. Saxo Markets assumes no liability for any loss sustained from trading in accordance with a recommendation.

Apple, iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

©   since 1992