To start this short set of comments, let's begin with Copper, which was hit hard this past week as news came out of China that the authorities were seriously investigating the double and triple counting of copper used to secure bank loans. I have mentioned in previous posts that the internal positioning of the LARGEST set of speculators in this market was something that I have not seen occur too often; more specifically one in which the hedge funds are positioned rather heavily on one side of the market with the "Other Reportables" taking the opposite side of their trade. I commented that one of these sides was going to be proven very right and the other side very wrong.
Looks like the hedge funds came away holding the short stick!
Take a look at the chart and then look at the COT chart. Notice what has happened to the price this week as that news hit the market to start off the week. The red metal dropped over 15 cents off its ending level last week before rebounding on Friday as some shorts rang the cash register.
Now here is the COT chart. Look at what happened to the hedge fund net long position and compare that to the Other Reportables who have had a significant exposure on the short side of this market. Sadly for us, the report does not cover the action from Wednesday to the close of trading today when copper plunged a further 10 cents since the drop the Tuesday cutoff date. Can you see the hedge funds running and what it did to the price?
Based on what I have seen of this report, when comparing it to the price action over the previous reporting period, it is not hard to see that hedge funds were getting hit hard on their wrong bet and were exiting in size. The late session bounce here on Friday makes it a bit harder to read as to whether they were coming back in to any significant increase in long side exposure once again or whether it was just pre-weekend short covering after such a big drop in price. I suspect it was more of the latter than the former.
The really big thing to me is just how aggressive the hedge fund community is becoming towards the bear side in the silver market.
Silver fell through important chart support centered near the $19 mark early in the week. Yesterday it popped higher on the ECB news but today it failed to extend or build on those gains. As has been the case for this metal for a while now, rallies are being sold. Just look at how the market fell early this week but then ran into more selling today as it failed to recapture that broken level of support near $19.
One look at the COT chart shows why. Hedge funds were aggressively attacking the metal this past reporting period. Interestingly enough, it was not so much of them bailing out of existing long positions as it was them adding a large number of brand new shorts. That is what drove the price down through $19. I have numbers going back further but for the sake of ease-of-reading of the chart, I am using data back to 2009 or five years ago. Hedge funds are now holding the largest net short position in at least five years!
I should continue to note here that the Other Reportables camp is still on the net long side - once again they are at odds with their large cousins but not nearly so balanced out as they have been in copper. It looks like some of these guys are spreading copper against silver with hedge funds taking the bull spreads and the other reportables taking the bear side of that spread.
When it comes to gold, hedge funds were big sellers this past week. Here is the thing however when it comes to gold - they continue to be stubbornly bullish as they remain net long just like the Other Reportables and even the small specs or general public do. In other words, yet another week, another deterioration in the chart pattern, and yet the entirety of the speculators refuse to get out and are still net longs. That continues to cause me to marvel. One wonders how much more money some of these guys are willing to lose before they decide to finally get out. I am concerned that as long as these stubborn bulls, who are mounting greater losses, continue to hang on, they are merely postponing any lasting bottoming process for the yellow metal. It seems that the bulls are going to go down with the ship.
At least one positive sign is that the little guys, the small specs or the Nonreportable Positions, look as if they are finally giving up the ghost. They remain net long but dumped about 1700 more long positions than they covered shorts this past week. Their net long position is the smallest it has been in nearly 4 months so that is somewhat constructive.
Here is the COT chart.
Here is the price chart comparing the net position of the hedge funds.
You can clearly see the speculative selling trend of this group and its impact on the price level As they sell, the metal moves lower. As stated above, they are still net long this market however and that troubles me.
Some are already talking up potential short squeezes but as I have said before - they are always talking POTENTIAL short squeezes - because, are you ready - in every single market on the planet that exists there is the POTENTIAL for a short squeeze. Big Deal! What is required is some sort of news or event that will trigger a technical buy signal to force some of the weaker shorts out. However, what is more important that any nebulous "potential short squeeze" is the prevailing trend of the speculator and right now that prevailing trend is one of selling.
I would much prefer to see these precious metals markets with the speculators all on the short side and sentiment miserable to convince me that we have truly formed a solid, long term bottom. Right now, all we are getting is rallies that get sold.
Let's see what next week brings us and whether or not the actions of the ECB this week will be enough to keep the gold price supported among those investors/traders based in the West.
"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
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