"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


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Commitment of Traders reports confirms effects of Risk Aversion trades

This past week's COT report was delayed until Monday (yesterday) on account of the Thanksgiving holiday. It does however confirm the market price action in both gold and silver which are currently stuck in no-man's land experiencing range bound trade with firm resistance on rallies and good support on dips.

Simply put - speculative interest in the metals has dampened off considerably as more and more traders/funds move to a cash position and lower their overall exposure to the commodity sector in general (risk assets). This is particularly evident among the general public, the small spec category, which have fled both silver and gold. In the case of gold, this category of traders is now holding the smallest net long position since February 2010. They have also cut their net long exposure to gold about 44% since the peak made back in March of this year.

 The big hedge funds continue to draw down net long exposure as well. This is not a recipe for higher prices.

While the reports indicate that a thorough cleansing process of both metals has been underway, it also confirms why neither market can currently get anything sustained to the upside. There is simply not enough speculative interest to push prices sharply higher at this time. Something will have to change on the fundamental front that triggers a strong desire on the part of the speculators to bid up the prices of both metals.

Keep in mind, there is nothing bullish about COT reports which show a fall off in speculative demand. Our modern markets are driven by money flows and money flows come from speculators. Until and unless they come into a market in a sustained fashion, prices will not be able to escape pressure related to commercial selling. The only thing "bullish" about this week's reports is that they do show plenty of room for this sort of speculative interest to build ONCE SOMETHING TRIGGERS THAT BUYING INTEREST. Until it does, neither one of these markets will be able to escape the range trade that currently holds them in check.

One other thing - a large part of the fall off in open interest in both metals is due to spread trades being taken off. Those are primarily a function of speculators playing differentials between various contract months. The fall off in the number of spreads also confirms the waning speculative interest in both markets.

Lastly, Silver continues to see the Swap Dealers increasing the size of their net long position. You've got to go back to April 2009 to see anything resembling this size exposure to the long side in silver by this category. That is rather interesting. This category is difficult to decipher because they can be putting on positions for clients, trading for themselves or hedging private contracts. But it could be that this is the reason silver has thus far been able to consistently bounce off the $30 support level. The Swap Dealers seem to be pretty comfortable with long side exposure in the metal down there. My guess is that if and when silver prices do eventually mount an upside breech of overhead resistance and begin a trending move higher, these traders will be selling out longs, booking profits and then moving back to the short side in a more conventional pattern for what we are accustomed to seeing with this group.