"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Saturday, April 5, 2014

COT Breakdown

Another Friday - another release of the Commitment of Traders report from the CFTC - let the entrail reading begin in earnest!

A caveat before we begin - the report only covers trading through the end of the combined pit and screen session on Tuesday of the current week. It therefore does not take into account the price action from Wednesday through the close of trading on Friday.

On Tuesday of last week ( 3-25-2014) gold closed at $1311.40. On Tuesday of this week, it closed at $1280 for a loss ( Tuesday - Tuesday ) of $31.60.

Here is what happened over that time period. Hedge funds were big sellers once again - therefore it should come as no surprise to see the price move lower. They bailed out of over 8000 long positions and added over 5500 NEW SHORT positions. The net impact was that they were sellers of some 13,687 contracts.

The other reportables, which include the big floor locals, CTA's, CPO's and other large private traders were also big sellers on the week. Their combined NET SELLING amounted to 4,724 contracts. By the way, this includes both futures and options combined for the funds and this other big group of speculators.

The combined selling of these large specs was 18,591 contracts.

The big commercial category were NET BUYERS on the week as were the Swap Dealers ( WHOOPS - there goes the theory of the evil bullion banks manipulating the price of gold lower). The combined NET BUYING from both these camps amounted to 14,858 contracts.

The balance was made up by the small spec category which were NET BUYERS of some 3,553 contracts.

In other words, we had the biggest speculators in the market selling with the commercial interests buying as price lost that $31.60.

This has been the pattern in gold since early 2001, more than a decade ago.

In some gold bug circles much ado was made about the big open interest drop in gold that occurred early in the week as if it was somehow a hugely significant market event and portended something big was about to happen in the gold market. As usual the hype, while amusing to read, was not based on anything remotely resembling reality. Guess what - April gold was entering its delivery period and many traders who were SPREAD using that month lifted their spreads.

The total number of spreads lifted was - are you ready for this? - 51,299 contracts ( futures and options combined). As you can see, that outnumbers the amount of actual buying and selling of outright positions by more than 3:1.

Remember this the next time some breathless article is written about some big open interest drop, especially if the market is entering a delivery period.

Where do things stand now ( as of this Friday)? As stated in a previous post, gold has had a nice bounce off an important chart support near the $1,280 level. I strongly suspect that the big rally off of $1280 has had more to do with short covering on the part of the hedge funds which stuck on some of those fresh shorts noted above. Without having the actual data in front of me ( we will need to wait until next Friday ( April 11), I would hesitate to be too dogmatic about this, but I would not look for the move over the last three days of this week to be characterized by a wave of brand new, aggressive long positioning.

Gold held where it needed to hold on the charts to prevent another leg lower and that ability to stay firm near $1280 has sparked another round of short covering. Now we need to see where the bulls can take this thing as the new week begins. There should be some overhead resistance centered near the $1320 level and again near $1340. If they can take it through both levels, I think we will see more aggressive short covering again and some new longs coming back in.

The key will be the Dollar and the US interest rate markets. There could also be some safe haven buying of gold if the US equity markets start looking shaky. We did get some of that in the recent past so it would not be unexpected to see it again if the selloff in the equity markets worsens.

Another way of saying this is that the bulls have regained some short term momentum. Whether or not they can capitalize on it is unclear. The charts will make it clear in their own time. In the meantime, stay flexible. Each new piece of economic data, whether from the US or from the Euro Zone or from China, is going to swing prices accordingly. I would suggest no one who is trading take too large of a position because it can reverse on you faster than you can blink. The name of the game right now is to survive. Let the computers chop up someone else besides you! Don't be the one providing them the funds for their extravagant lifestyles. Let them suck it out of someone else - blasted infernal leeches that they are.

As the reader can probably tell - I loathe what these computers have done to my profession. Mindless, unthinking machines ( in contrast to we carbon-based life forms known as discriminating human beings ) shoving markets all over the place, oftentimes without rhyme or reason, is in many quarters hailed as more efficient markets. I don't know whether to laugh in contempt or to weep with sadness over how shortsightedly blind our nation has become.

I have seen enough of the carnage these computer generated price moves can inflict on legitimate hedgers looking to offset risk to have had my complete fill of them. Sadly, it is here to stay and we have to learn to adapt to them in order to survive and prosper.