COT: Russia-centric commodities in focus last week COT: Russia-centric commodities in focus last week COT: Russia-centric commodities in focus last week

COT: Russia-centric commodities in focus last week

Ole Hansen

Head of Commodity Strategy

Summary:  The COT reports published weekly by the US CFTC highlight futures positions and changes made by hedge funds across commodities, forex and financials. This update covers the week to February 22, and once again it was a reporting week that ended a few days before a major risk event took place, this time Russia’s attack on Ukraine last Thursday. An attack that triggered major moves across most asset classes, not least commodities where speculators reacted to the prospect for the conflict impacting several commodities from oil and gas to gold and wheat.

Monday morning updates from the Strategy Team:
Market Quick Take
Podcast: Sanctions slam the door on Russia

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, forex and financials up until last Tuesday, February 22. Once again a reporting week that ended a few days before a major risk event took place, this time Russia’s attack on Ukraine last Thursday which triggered major moves across most asset classes. During the week in question risk appetite was already being challenged with the MSCI World Index as well as the S&P 500 Index losing more than 3% while US treasury yields reversed lower with the 10-year tenor falling 10 basis points to 1.94%

The dollar traded unchanged, with speculators continuing to reduce their net longs, before rallying in the days that followed while commodities saw strong gains led by grains, energy and precious metals.


The Bloomberg Commodity Spot index rose 3.3% in the week to last Tuesday, thereby reaching a fresh record high. Gains were led by commodities and sectors most at risk of being impacted by supply disruptions from Russia and Ukraine. These were crude oil, gas, palladium and grains while gold and silver received a safe haven bid amid lower bond yields and stock market turmoil.

Speculators reacted to these developments by adding length to gold and silver as well as grains, while net selling of crude oil surprisingly extended into a fifth week. Overall the total exposure across 24 major commodity futures rose 4% to 2.2 million lots representing an $8.4 billion increased in the nominal exposure to $171 billion.

Energy:  Large money manager accounts cut, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, their combined lenght in crude oil for a fifth week by 5.6k lots to 509k lots. A $1.7/b widening of the WTI/Brent spread to $4.8/b during the week, now at at $6.9/b, helped drive a diversion between the two with the Brent crude oil long rising by 13.4k lots while the WTI long was cut by 19k lots. Fuel products and natural gas all saw their net longs being reduced.

Metals: The gold long jumped 28% to 161k lots as the price returned to $1900, and following three weeks of buying the net long was lifted by 98k lot to the highest since November. Such an aggressive position adjustments within a relative short period of time always tend to create a certain amount of volatility with corrections often ending up being deeper than otherwise warrented, something that was on clear display last Thursday - after this reporting week - when the price after reaching a one-year high suddenly dropped close to 100 dollars. Silver also saw a sizable amount of buying lifting the net long by 48% to a four-week high at 26k lots. In platinum, the net long received a 157% boost while palladium, despite rallying by more than 5% saw no interest in adding length with the net remaining neutral. A quiet week in copper meanwhile driving a 9% reduction in the net long to 33.4k lots. 

Agriculture: The grains sector saw broad buying interest with the net long in across the six futures contracts rising 65k lots to a ten-month high at 717k. Buying was concentrated in corn, and not least wheat where the 8.5% price jump only helped trigger a halving of the net short to 18k lots, hence the panic buying last Thursday when the price in Paris reached a record high while Chicago wheat reached levels not seen since 2008. The soybean long meanwhile reached a 14-month high at 180k lots, still some 58k lots below the October 2020 high. All four soft commodity contracts saw witnessed long liquidation led by cocoa while the sugar long continued to deflate dropping 8% to 53.8k lots, lowest since since June 2020. Coffee and cotton both seeing a relative small 4% reduction. 


Before surging higher last Thursday, following Russia’s attack on a sovereign nation, speculators had cut bets on a rising dollar to a six-month low. After six weeks of non-stop selling the dollar long against ten IMM currency futures and the Dollar index dropped to $8.5 billion last Tuesday with the main driver being a 25% increase in the euro long to 59.3k lots or $8.4 billion equivalent. Additional short covering in JPY and AUD also helped more than offset selling of CHF, GBP, CAD and NZD.

Among the minor currencies the Russian Ruble long rose 21% to 19.5k lots or $0.6 bn equivalent, a 14-week high, just days before starting a collapse which so far has seen drop by close to 30%. Length was also added to BRL which reached a five-year high at 24.4k lots and MXN which at 16.8k lots reached a 14-month 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



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