Bearish sentiment flowed through many markets this week and didn’t spare agriculture as bulls are hard to find.
Here’s what funds were up to through Tuesday, August 20, when the CFTC collected data for its latest Commitment of Traders released Friday.
Big speculators added to bearish bets in crops and livestock this week, driving their net short position to its widest level of the summer. In all, hedge funds sold a net 127,659 contracts while traders using index funds to gain exposure to commodities also liquidated.
Big speculators turned bearish on corn for the first time since prices took off over Memorial Day. Hedge funds sold a net 87,788 contracts to flip from long to a net short position of 70,575 contracts.
Trying to hold
Big speculators continue to big a little bullish one week and a little bearish the next. This was the week for selling, with hedge funds adding 4,575 contracts to their net short position, taking it to a relatively modest 84,563 lots.
It didn’t take big speculators long to resume bearish ways in the oil market. After just one week with a small net long position, hedge funds turned short again, selling a net 5,209 contracts.
Big speculators made it three for three, selling soybean meal after a brief bout of buying the previous week. Still, hedge funds added only 1,916 lots to their bearish bets on the product.
Last, best hope
Soft red winter wheat was the best part of the wheat complex this summer, the only futures market to avoid new contract lows. But big speculators remained short anyway and they extended bearish bets this week, selling a net 6,298 contracts.
Hard red winter wheat hovered near contract lows all week with rallies constrained by fund selling. Big speculators added 4,111 lots to their net short position, keeping the hammer down.
Large traders in Minneapolis this week extended their record bearish bet on spring wheat yet again, adding 1,736 contracts to their net short position.
Crude oil was choppy this week like the rest of the market, beset by worries over trade and recession. Money managers added $357 million to their net long position, a small amount by Wall Street standards.