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Bears turn cautious

Funds cover a few more shorts

Big speculators covered more of their bearish bets against agriculture this week, easing up again on relentless selling.

Here’s what funds were up to through Tuesday, September 24, when the CFTC collected data for its latest Commitment of Traders released Friday.

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Blip on the chart

Short covering by big speculators in crops and livestock took place again this week, but these hedge funds are still bearish. After buying back 30,048 contracts they’re still short 383,461 – a long ways from being bullish.

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Still bearish

After selling for nine weeks in row, big speculators finally eased up and covered some of their shorts, trimming bearish bets by 10,389 contracts. But that was only around 5% of their net short position, and they started selling again after the CFTC data was gathered on Tuesday.

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Double time

Big speculators covered bearish bets in soybeans for the second week in a row, buying back 7,825 contracts. But they resumed selling after Tuesday and remain bearish overall.

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About face

Vegetable oils were a hot market – and then they weren’t. Big speculators jumped in front of the trend, trimming 2,660 contracts from their new bullish bet on the complex.

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Too much

After pushing their net short position in soybean meal to the widest level in more than two years, big speculators finally let up on the selling a little, covering 7,434 contracts of their bearish bet on the product.

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Worm turns

Wheat was the bright spot in the market this week and short covering by big speculators was the reason why. Hedge funds bought back some of their bearish bets for the second straight week, including 392 in soft red winter wheat.

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Hard gains

Big speculators bought back short position in hard red winter wheat this week, trimming bearish bets by 2,259 contracts to help prices firm.

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Time to shine

Minneapolis futures rocketed higher in September as wet conditions delayed harvest and raised questions about yields and quality of spring wheat. Large traders trimmed 4,190 contracts off their net short position this week, but they were still short 15,251 as of Tuesday.

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Battle fatigue

Just when it looked like crude oil had legs due to the attack on Saudi oil fields, the market turned tail with signs of easing tensions in the region. Money managers were selling again as prices fell, dumping more than $875 million worth of crude futures and options.

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