COT: Oil at three-year high triggers continued fund selling

Ole Hansen

Head of Commodity Strategy, Saxo Bank Group
Ole Hansen joined Saxo in 2008 and has been Head of Commodity Strategy since 2010. He focuses on delivering strategies and analyses of the global commodity markets defined by fundamentals, market sentiment and technical developments.

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Hedge funds cut bullish commodities bets for a third week as the stronger dollar created headwinds for metals while surging crude oil prices continued to attract profit-taking. Staying with energy, demand for oil products continued to rise while natural gas was cut by one-quarter. 

Grains were mixed with soybeans selling being more than offset by strong pre-WASDE buying of corn and wheat. 

While crude oil rallied hard on the back of President Trump's decision to leave the 2015 nuclear agreement, hedge funds took to opportunity to reduce bullish bets for a third consecutive week. During this time the combined net-long (using four oil contracts on CME and ICE) has dropped by 88,000 lots to 1 million, an eight-week low.  

Demand for products, however, continued with the net-longs in gas oil, gasoline, and diesel all rising.

Gold and silver put up a fight against the stronger dollar with both managing to hold onto key support at $1,300/oz and $16/oz. respectively. Despite a small amount of net-buying in gold, the gross-long nevertheless dropped to just 118,000 lots, a 26-month low. 

On that basis funds have now been left unprepared for a potential move higher with the technical focus on $1,326/oz, the 38.2% retracement of the April to May sell-off. 

Three weeks of copper buying came to a halt as the stronger dollar and US-China trade impasse weigh on both sentiment and prices. 

China trade jitters resulting in less demand for US soybeans, meanwhile, helped trigger the largest weekly sell-off since December. Funds flipped their position in wheat back to a net-long but it is unlikely to have survived the week. This after selling pressure mounted following Thursday’s WASDE report which showed a surprise rise in US wheat production despite the poor condition of winter wheat. 

In soft commodities the elevated short positions in both sugar and coffee continued to be reduced while cocoa buyers paused following 15 consecutive weeks of buying.

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