COMMODITY UPDATE –
Hedge funds bought commodities for a second week with the combined long across 24 major futures contracts jumping by 85 per cent to 296k lots. All sectors were net bought, including the three up until recently under fire agriculture sub-sectors of grains, softs and livestock. Biggest surprise, however was the limited response from oil traders to the temporary removal of nearly 6 per cent of daily global production.
The biggest surprise in last week’s data was the lack of buying of crude oil following the attack on the world’s biggest oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia. The record price jump in Brent triggered a surprise 3 per cent reduction primarily through long liquidation while the gross-short instead of being reduced saw a small increase.
Money managers probably refrained from buying the market for a number of reasons. The initial price spike left the level unattractive and probably also forced some to reduce exposure as volatility spiked. Others are likely to have viewed the rally as being unsustainable at a time when demand growth is weakening.
WTI meanwhile was bought on the prospect of increased exports after the opening of new pipelines from Texas’s Permian shale oil basin to the US Gulf coast.
Gold was bought in response to heightened geo-political tensions and ahead of last Wednesday’s FOMC rate cut decision. The solid support at $1,485/oz helped create a floor from where fresh buying emerged (+8k) and short sellers (-6k lots) reduced exposure. Gold closed strongly on Friday on speculation that the US had a rejected a partial trade agreement with China.
HG copper was bought for a second week despite posting the biggest one-day loss in six weeks last Monday after weaker-than-expected Chinese industrial data and the attack in Saudi Arabia. The platinum net-long held steady near a 19-months high.
Nine weeks of selling lifted the corn net-short to 170k lots. A potential head-and-shoulder on ZCZ9 could now leave short positions exposed on a break above $3.8/bu. The soybeans net-short was cut by 44k lots, the biggest one-week reduction since last December. China’s resumption of buying saw the price briefly return to $9/bu before heading lower on renewed trade worries.
Sugar’s biofuel link to oil drove a temporary jump following the Saudi attack. This was however not enough to prevent another increase in the already record short by 10 per cent to 235k lots. The cocoa net-short was almost cut in half as the price surged on supply concerns in West Africa. Another false dawn in coffee triggered a 19 per cent reduction in net-short before the price dropped back below $1/lb.