Farm Progress

Funds flee corn and crude oil

Money managers take a holiday from risk.

Bryce Knorr 1

June 2, 2018

2 Min Read
maciek905/Thinkstock

Traders often trim bets on risky assets like commodities into holidays. But selling into Memorial Day was focused, not broad-based, and continued for the rest of the week.

Here’s what funds were up to through Tuesday, May 29, when the CFTC collected data for its latest Commitment of Traders put out on Friday.

 

Index blues

Big speculators are known for jumping in and out of the market, but their overall positions were little changed in crops and livestock this week. Investors using index funds to gain exposure to commodities were sellers again, taking their holdings to the lowest level of the spring.

Sideline sellers

Index traders were especially heavy sellers in corn through Memorial Day, cutting 22,956 contracts off their holdings. Big speculators also sold, liquidating more of their bullish bet the rest of the week after the CFTC data was collected.

Treading water

Big speculators bought a few soybeans this week, ending a string of weeks where bullish bets were liquidated. That helped turn around the skid in the futures market as the trade debate raged.

Still short

Big speculators remain bearish on soybean oil, and they were selling this leg of the complex lightly again last week, ending four weeks of short covering.

Steady meal

Big speculators increased their large bullish bet on meal by a token amount this week, adding just 394 contracts. Funds were light sellers after the Tuesday cutoff for the CFTC report, according to daily player sheets.

Rally time

Soft red winter wheat rallied to its highest level since last summer, but those gains were fueled by short covering from funds, not new buying. Big speculators cut another 10,237 contracts off their bearish bet in SRW, which was down to 19,245 lots as of Tuesday.

Hard turn

Big speculators increased their bullish bets on hard red winter wheat to the highest level since August, adding 7,794 contracts to their net long position. The move comes as harvest is starting to pick up – usually a time for sellers to come out.

Holiday move

Large traders boosted their net long position in spring wheat to its highest level since Thanksgiving, helping prices continue to recover.

Out of oil

Money managers have been cutting crude oil from their portfolios since January. But this week’s data showed they’d really gotten religion. Their net long position fell more by more than $3.5 billion as crude oil futures lost 10% of their value.

About the Author(s)

Bryce Knorr 1

Senior Market Analyst, Farm Futures

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