COT: Speculators sold dollar and gold ahead of FOMC COT: Speculators sold dollar and gold ahead of FOMC COT: Speculators sold dollar and gold ahead of FOMC

COT: Speculators sold dollar and gold ahead of FOMC

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 20, a week leading up to the FOMC meeting, Bank of Japan intervention, a Sterling crisis and the dollar surging to levels not seen in decades. Ahead of these events speculators chose to cut their dollar long by one-third, increasing their gold short to a four year high while adding exposure in grains and crude oil


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 20. A week that saw financial market adjust positions ahead of the FOMC meeting on September 21. In anticipation of another 75 basis point rate hike, the market sold stocks, bonds and commodities while the dollar was bought. As it turned out, the FOMC was the starting shot to a very volatile end of week that saw heightened recession worries, Bank of Japan intervention to support the yen for the first time in 24 years, and an unfolding crisis in the UK sending the Sterling towards an all-time low.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodity Index dropped 2.3% during the week to last Tuesday with losses seen across most sectors, the exception being grains and livestock. Selling was particularly felt across the energy sector and in precious metals. Money managers responded to these heightened growth and strong dollar concerns by cutting length in energy and softs while adding to already short positions in precious metals. The only sector continuing to see demand were grains where the speculators have now been net buyers in all but one of the last eight reporting weeks.

Energy

Money managers raised their combined crude oil net long to a seven-week high despite the recessionary clouds growing ever darker and the dollar continued to strengthen. During the reporting week when oil dropped around 3% the total net long in WTI and Brent was raised by 13.5k contracts to 355k lots. The ICE gas long meanwhile slumped by 30% to a 22-month low while in New York the ULSD (diesel) length was cut by 17% to 15.7k contracts. Despite falling by around 7% only small changes were seen in natural gas.

Metals

Gold selling accelerated last week with the net short jumping by 225% to 33k contracts to near a four-year low. This the culmination of six consecutive weeks of selling driven by a stronger dollar and rising Treasury yields as well a firm belief the FOMC will successfully manage to bring inflation under control next year. Silver saw no major net change with reductions in both long and short positions offsetting each other. The copper net short was unchanged at 4k contacts, the weakest belief in lower prices since June while platinum’s 3.5% rally supported an 82% reduction in the net short to just 2k contracts, again weakest short bet since June.

Agriculture

The grains sector saw continued demand with speculators having been net buyers in all but one of the past eight weeks. The increase last week was led by a 16% increase in the soymeal long to 102k contracts, a seasonal high while corn buying extended to an eight week. The wheat market which found support from renewed threats to the Ukraine grain corridor saw net buying of both Chicago and Kansas wheat. Overall however the net exposure remains close to zero with a 16k contracts CBT net short partly offsetting a 19k contracts long in KCB wheat.


Renewed selling of sugar cut the net long by 72% to 8.6k contracts, the cocoa net short extended to a fresh 3-1/2 year high while long liquidation continued in both coffee and cotton.

Forex

Ahead of the post-FOMC dollar surge to a fresh multi-year high against several major currencies, and the first intervention from the Bank of Japan to support the yen in 24 years, speculators had reduced bullish dollar bets by 35% to $13.9 billion, a six month low. The bulk of the change was driven by the biggest amount of short covering in the euro since March 2020, a change that flipped the position back to a long of 33k lots or €4.2 billion equivalent, up from a €6 billion short three weeks ago.

The net short in sterling was reduced by 13k lots to 55k lots just days before tumbling to a 37-year low following the announcement of a historic debt financed tax cuts. The yen meanwhile saw no major changes ahead of Thursday’s USDJPY surge and subsequent 

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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