July 28, 2018
Analysts who ponder what funds are up to look at weekly summaries put out by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. They also watch daily player sheets tracked by wire services. Fund short covering in corn and soybeans appeared to drive the recent rally. But today’s CFTC data had a surprise: Funds were still selling earlier this week. That could provide even more ammunition for buying if the smart money gets nervous.
Here’s what funds were up to through Tuesday, July 24, when the CFTC collected data for its latest Commitment of Traders.
After some big changes this summer, this week’s Commitments showed big speculators and investors taking a break. Hedge funds increased their bearish bet on crops and livestock by only 4,919 net contracts while investors using index funds to gain exposure to commodities cut only 7,038 contracts from their net long position.
Corn prices rallied despite new selling by big speculators revealed by today’s report. Hedge funds added another 10,139 contracts to their net short position in corn, even as prices gained more than 15 cents.
Soybean futures also rose despite new fund selling that turned up in the CFTC tally. Hedge funds increased bearish bets by 9,701 contracts into early this week.
Back from the brank
Big speculators raised their short position in soybean oil to an all-time record last week, but covered some of those bearish bets this week, buying 1,170 contracts overall.
Big speculators pushed spread trades in the soy complex this year, selling soybeans and oil and buying meal This week they unwound some of those bets in oil, while trimming their net long position in meal by 5,849 contracts.
Reason for rally
Short covering helped drive soft red winter wheat prices higher this week. Big speculators cut 8,582 contracts from their net short position, which was down to 28,820 lots as of Tuesday.
Back in black
Big speculators bought a little hard red winter wheat this week, adding 2,168 contracts to their modest net long position, while index traders were also buying.
Large traders leaned the wrong way into the wheat tour in North Dakota this week. They extended their record short position in Minneapolis by another 181 contracts according to the CFTC.
Money managers sold crude oil for the third straight week, though their liquidation eased some. Still, managers lighted up their net long position by more than $650 million worth of crude.
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