The US dollar rose more than 8.5% against the yen in November, and finally at the end of the month, speculators finally switched to a new short position for the first time this year.
In the CFTC reporting week ending November 28, speculators added 12.1k contracts to their gross short position, lifting it to 72.4k contracts. Speculators added a little less than one thousand contracts to the gross longs, which then stood at 72.1k contracts.
Since peaking in early October near 102k contracts, 30k gross long contracts have been liquidated. Over the same period, almost 40k contracts have been added to the gross short exposure. The result is that the net position is short about three hundred futures contracts. That leaves the Australian dollar as the only currency futures we track in which speculators are still net long. And even there they are back.
During the latest reporting period, speculators liquidated 8.7k long Aussie futures contracts, bringing the position down to 54.8k contracts. About 1.1k contracts were added to the gross short position, so it stood at 33.8k contracts. The net long position fell by a third to 21.0 contracts.
Growing the gross short yen futures was the largest speculative position adjustment, but speculators were also active in euro futures. The bulls added 9k contracts to the gross longs (to 136.1k), while the bears grew the gross short position almost as much (8.9k contracts to 255.3k).
After a three-week rally, the dollar bulls finally showed signs of tiring ahead of the weekend. Technical indicators have begun rolling over from over-extended conditions. Nevertheless, the dollar’s pullback is limited in time to the first part of the week ahead, and in scope to only modest retracement targets ahead of the US employment data, the Italian referendum, and the Austrian presidential election on December 4.
We have suggested that the dollar’s advance was fueled by the divergence that had little to do with the US election. It is clear from Fed comments and the minutes from the November FOMC meeting that officials were prepared to hike rates regardless of the election outcome. Moreover, subsequent data has been mostly better than expected.
Trump’s promise of significant fiscal stimulus with the world’s largest economy already grown near or above trend, the inflationary implications are clear. Nominal rate differentials have widened significantly in US favor. We are cautious are extrapolating too much from the inflation-linked securities as the liquidity premium tends to exaggerate the movement. Also, Fed funds futures strip has not fully priced in two hikes next year, suggesting potential room further adjustment.
Since November 4, a few days before the US election, the Dollar Index rose about 5.35% at last week’s peak just above 102.00. The RSI has rolled over, as has the Slow Stochastics. The MACDs may turn next week. Initial support is seen in the 101.00-101.20 and then 100.65.
The London Metal Exchange has made its first move into the warehousing business in China, with plans to test its new warehouse receipt system in the world’s largest consumer of metals.
The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing-owned company said warehouse operator Henry Bath would sponsor a pilot roll-out of the LME’s warehouse receipt system in China, which would allow users to register metal on the exchange.
The initiative comes after a scandal erupted in the port city of Qingdao in 2014 where metal in a warehouse was allegedly pledged to back bank loans to multiple owners.
The LME hopes its warehouse receipt system will bring greater transparency and trust to metals trading in China. It will allow traders and banks to hold and finance metals backed by warehouse receipts.
“It’s a genuine first for the exchange. It’s no secret that we’ve hoped to launch services in China for some time,” Garry Jones, CEO of the LME said Monday.
Seasonally, expectations are for continued builds in inventories (following last week’s biggest build in 6 months) but API reported a massive 3.8mm drawdown (against 2.1mm build expectations) sending WTI prices soaring. Distillates also saw a notable draw as Gasoline built modestly. Cushing saw the biggest draw since Feb 2014.
Crude -3.8mm (+2.1mm exp)
Cushing -1.96mm (-1.4mm exp)
As Bloomberg added, “We’ll see what happens with the weekly DOE’s. People will look for confirmation tomorrow about how much refining capacity is offline,” Sam Margolin, energy markets analyst at Cowen & Co., says by phon.
Speculators turned more bearish the euro and less bullish the Japanese yen in the Commitment of Traders week ending October 11. The dramatic shift in US presidential polls and the continued rally in oil appeared to have spurred speculators to reduce short Mexican peso positions and add to longs.
Speculators in the futures market added 20.1k contracts to their gross short euro position, lifting it to 207.8k contracts. There were still a few speculators that tried picking a bottom before the euro slipped below $1.10 in the spot market. The bulls added 8.6k contracts, lifting the gross long position to 114.3k contracts.
The largest speculative gross long and gross short position in the euro. The net short position rose to 93.5k contracts from 82.1k. This is a two month high. However, sterling’s net short position is larger at 95.5k contracts. This slightly smaller than the previous reporting period (-97.6k contracts). This reflected the fact that speculators covered more gross short positions than liquidated gross long positions. Specifically, the 6.4k long contracts were cut while 8.5k short contracts were covered (leaving the gross long position at 50.4k contracts and the gross short position of 145.9k contracts).
Yen bulls move may be having second thoughts in the face of the continued (three consecutive weeks) dollar recovery in the spot market. They liquidated 22.7k contracts to leave a gross long position of 79.3k contracts. The bears were not enticed and added nearly a hundred contracts to the gross short position, which now stands 33.4k contracts. The net long position of 45.9k contracts (down nearly 23k contracts in the latest reporting week) is the smallest in two months.
During the CFTC’s Commitment of Traders week ending October 4, speculators took on risk. Of the sixteen gross currency positions we track, speculators added to their exposure in all but five. Bulls and bears saw opportunity.
The bears were decisive. Of the significant position adjustments (a change in gross position by at least 10k contracts), two were adding to gross shorts (euro and sterling). The New Zealand dollar and Mexican peso were the only two where the bears did not add to gross short position.
The bulls did not extend gross long positions in three of the eight currencies: the Canadian and New Zealand dollars and the Mexican peso. What the disaggregated view reveals is that the New Zealand dollar and Mexican peso were the exceptions to the general pattern. Speculators moved to the sidelines in both currencies. That leaves the 2k contract liquidation of gross long Canadian dollar position to be the sole exception of speculators adding to positions.
The gross short euro position expanded by 11.2k contracts to 187.7k. It is the largest in a month. The gross sterling position jumped 18.4k contract to 154.3k, a new record. It has risen by 31k over the past three reporting periods. A week after the June referendum, the gross short position stood at 94.8k contracts.
The bulls made only one significant adjustment to their currency futures position. It was the Australian dollar. They added 10.7k contracts to lift the gross long position to 73.5k contracts. The gross short position hardly changed, rising 1.7k contracts to 46.9k. The result was an increase in the net long speculative Aussie position too 23.9k contracts from 15.0k. Two weeks ago, the net speculative position was long by 6.8k contracts.
In the week after the BOJ and FOMC meetings, speculators made several significant adjustments to gross positions in the futures market. However, there was not clear pattern.
Of the 16 gross positions we track, five adjustments were more than 10k contracts. Of these five, two were large adds to gross long positions. In the remaining three, speculators cut gross long positions.
The bulls added 12.3k yen contracts to lift their gross long position to 97.4k contracts. It is the largest long position since April. The bears added 2.2k to their gross short position, raising to 28.5k contracts.
Sterling bulls are a fickle lot. After adding almost 29k contracts to their gross long position in the CFTC reporting week ending September 23, they liquidated 21.1k contracts in the most recent reporting period. The gross long position stands at 48.2k contracts. which matches the four-week average (~49.2k contracts).
Yet something more than fickleness appears to be at work. This is the third time this year that there has been a sharp jump in gross long sterling positions followed by a large liquidation the following week. Each occurred around he quarterly expiration. It did not happen last year or the year before. Separately, note that the bears added 8k contracts to lift their gross short sterling position to 135.9k contracts, a new record.
Occasionally around the quarterly expiration, the speculative positioning in the Swiss franc also be comes volatile. In the latest reporting period, speculators cut the gross long franc position by more than half to 12.8k contracts (a 14.5k contract liquidation). The previous week it jumped by 7.2k contracts, or about a third. The gross short position changed by about a hundred contracts. The liquidation of the longs drove the net position from long 8.4k contracts to short 6.0k. Speculators were short francs briefly in August.
Global nickel prices spiked on Tuesday after the Philippines, the world’s top supplier of nickel ore, announced that 20 more metals mines were at risk of being shut down for violating environmental regulations.
The 20 mines, which include the Philippine unit of Australian miner OceanaGold, were ordered to explain why their operations should not be suspended. Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Leo Jasareno on Tuesday said most violations were related to siltation, soil erosion, dust emissions and lack of relevant permits.
Jasareno said only 11 of 41 metal mines passed the review, which was conducted from July to August. The government earlier suspended operations at 10 mines for violating environmental regulations.
Suspended mines and those that have been recommended for suspension accounted for 55% of the value of nickel production last year, he said. UBS said shutting three-fourths of Philippine metal mines will cut about 11% of the global nickel ore supply.
There are a few notable exceptions. First, over the past several weeks, speculators have reduced gross short euro positions by more than 20% since the end of July. It stands at 173.3k contracts, after the bears covered 16.7k contracts in the CFTC reporting period ending September 13.
If the bears were pulling back in the euro, they were showing their claws on the Mexican peso. The gross short position rose by 10.4k contracts, after increasing by 22k contracts the previous reporting period. At 85.7k contracts, the gross short position is the largest since April. The net short peso position has more than doubled to 65.7k contracts in the past two weeks.
Although the position adjustments in sterling has been modest, the market has turned and has stopped extending gross and net short positions. Both have fallen for two consecutive reporting period from record levels. The gross short speculative position fell by 5.5k contracts to 123.2k contracts, roughly the same amount that was covered in the previous week. The bottom pickers have slowly entered the market. The gross long position bottomed in mid-July near 28k contracts. It edged up 1.6k contracts in the latest reporting period to 40.1k contracts. The net short sterling position of 82.8k contracts surpassed the euro (net short 81.5k contracts) to have the dubious honor of the largest such speculative position.