Energy: Speculators increased bullish WTI bets by 2.3k lots to 393k lots, a fresh 32-month high while the Brent long (-5.8k lots to 334k) was cut for a second week. Overall the combined net long held steady for a fifth week at 727k lots, just days before plunging the most since September on stalling vaccine rollouts, rising bond yields triggering reduced risk appetite and IEA saying speculation about a oil super-cycle is premature. However, concerns about OPEC+ action to stem the slide and both WTI and Brent successfully bouncing from their 50-day moving averages helped reduce the risk of further technical hedge fund selling. Continued buying of refined fuel products lifted the net long in gasoline, distillate and gas oil to a 14-month high at 194k lots.
Natural gas’ continued warmer weather slump, down 20% during the past month, triggered another week of aggressive long liquidation in four Henry Hub deliverable futures and swap contracts. In just three weeks funds have sold 144k lots, bringing the net down to an eight-month low at 212k lots.
Metals: Buyers returned to gold for the first time since January after it managed to find support within the important $1670-85 band of support. The 30% jump in the net long to 54.7k lots was driven by a combination of new longs (5.9k) and 7k of short covering. These developments unfolded before the post-FOMC recovery when the market stepped up its focus and hedging activity against the risk of rising inflation. Elsewhere the silver long was reduced by 6%, platinum buying lifted the net long by 11% while HG copper selling extended into a fourth week resulting in the net long being cut to just 45k lots, an eight month low.
Agriculture: Grains and softs, with the exception of corn and cotton saw mild net selling. Overall the total net long in grains was only reduced by 0.4% to 743k lots, and the sector maintain a near record long exposure ahead of the March 31 US Prospective Planting report which may set the tone into the planting and growing months. Wheat, both the soft and hard red winter variety saw a combined 19k lots reduction 56k lots as it continue to be least wanted of the three major crops.