By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK | Fri Oct 5, 2012 5:53pm EDT
(Reuters) – The net long money held by hedge funds and other big speculators in U.S. commodity markets rose in the week to Tuesday after strong buying in gold and natural gas, trade data showed on Friday.
The rise – calculated from data issued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – confounded some analysts who expected a decline in the bullish money held by the so-called “money managers” in commodities after a selloff in other key markets like crude oil, soybeans and corn.
“It’s been a banner week for natural gas, and to an extent, gold, as big investors and institutions aggressively accumulate positions in the two,” said Adam Sarhan at New York-based Sarhan Capital.
Reuters’ calculations of the CFTC’s Commitment of Traders data showed the value of the net long position held by money managers in some 22 U.S. commodity markets tracked by the CFTC rose by just over $600 million in the week to October 2, touching nearly $113 billion.
The figures are calculated by Reuters based on the change in net positions from the week before, multiplied by the contract’s value at the end of the period. Because most investors trade commodities on margin, the change in the value of positions is not directly equivalent to total investment.
In contract terms, the week to October 2 saw a net addition of 30,389 contracts – up 2 percent from the week to Sept 25.
For natural gas alone, there was a buildup of nearly 9 percent in net long positions traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas contracts on ICE Futures saw a separate 5.3 percent build in net longs.
Natural gas’ front-month futures contract on NYMEX gained nearly 20 percent in the five sessions to October 2, touching a 2012 high of $3.546 per million British thermal units at one stage.
Year-to-date, natural gas is up 13 percent, heading for its biggest gain in five years and ending, at least from a technical viewpoint, a bear market that began in 2008. Still, record-high stockpiles of gas and production at or near an all-time peak have most fundamental traders skeptical of the upside.
Net long positions in gold on New York’s COMEX rose 3 percent in the week to October 2 to stand at 195,647 contracts.
The spot price of gold, which tracks trades in bullion, hit an 11-month high above $1,795 an ounce on Friday, just shy of the $1,800 target eyed by market bulls.
Since an April low of $1,527, spot gold has risen 14 percent. Much of the buildup has occurred since July as speculators piled into the precious metal in anticipation of currency debasement from stimulus measures rolled out by central banks in the United States, Europe and China.
(Editing by Jim Marshall
- One of the strongest correlations remains: S&P500/ $XLF (financials ETF) = +97.5%!
Gold slides for second day, breaks key supports
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Gold slumped for a second day on Friday to conclude its worst week in eight, crashing through key technical supports, as investors shed riskier assets and bought the dollar on heightened concerns over Greek debt.
With less than a week until the end of the Federal Reserve’s second quantitative easing program, bullion’s three percent fall over the past two days has raised questions about whether its years-long boom has stalled. After reaching a high of $1,575.79 on May 2, gold has struggled.
Spot prices ended the week below their 50-day moving average for the first time since February, they ruptured a trendline support stemming back to a January low, and they broke out of a six-week sideways pattern to the downside.
All of those technical chart patterns were seen as warning signs by many investors.
“Once the 50-day average is broken on a weekly basis, it a first sign of weakness and that the trend may be changing,” said Adam Sarhan at Sarhan Capital.
Spot gold was down 1.3 percent at $1,501.40 an ounce by 3:02 p.m. EDT (1902 GMT), having earlier fallen to a month low at $1,498.16. It was down about 2.5 percent for the week.
U.S. August gold futures settled down $19.60, a 1.30 percent drop, at $1,500.90. It set a $1,498.50 and $1,526.50 range. Volume above 170,000 lots was about 20 percent below its 30-day average, but up from weak volume in recent sessions.
The dollar gained almost 1 percent for the week versus the euro on worries that Greece’s parliament will not approve a package of austerity measures next week. The U.S. currency also strengthened after the Federal Reserve, earlier this week, offered no hope for additional monetary support.
“Gold’s decline has to do with the strength of the dollar, and since the equity market is resuming its decline, that’s what’s working counter to gold prices at the moment,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at broker-dealer Janney Montgomery Scott, which manages $54 billion in assets.
Silver was down 2 percent at $34.55 an ounce, lifting the gold/silver ratio — the number of ounces of silver needed to buy one ounce of gold — to near a one-month high at 43.5. The ratio’s increase highlights gold’s outperformance relative to silver.
Rick Bensignor, chief market strategist at Dahlman Rose, said, gold’s pullback could have more room to the downside, with next major support in area of May’s lows between $1,488 and $1,471 a tonne.
“The dollar could rally up to its 200-day moving average, and that will not help gold advance right now,” he said.
Worries about Greece defaulting on its massive debt, a development that would roil markets if the country’s parliament does not approve austerity measures and concerns over some Italian banks dragged global stock markets sharply lower for a second day. <USD/> .N
“You have prices of crude oil, commodities and the stock market again under pressure. And, you have a strong dollar. To think that gold is going to rally, it’s just not going to happen,” said independent investor Dennis Gartman.
“Every market that has the term ‘risk’ associated with it, everybody wants out,” he said.
With the second round of Fed quantitative easing (QE2) ending in June, some investors question whether risk assets could rise further. Gold has thrived on the expectation of an extended period of low U.S. interest rates, and that placed non-yielding bullion in a better position to compete for investor cash against stocks or bonds.
Among platinum group metals, platinum was last down 0.8 percent at $1,680.24 an ounce, while palladium was down 1.8 percent at $729.25.
Prices at 3:02 p.m. EDT (1902 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD
CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US gold 1500.90 -19.60 -1.3% 5.6% US silver 34.638 -0.364 1.0% 12.0% US platinum 1677.60 -16.90 -1.0% -5.7% US palladium 730.20 -11.35 -1.5% -9.1%
Gold 1501.40 -19.30 -1.3% 5.8% Silver 34.55 -0.70 -2.0% 12.0% Platinum 1680.24 -14.26 -0.8% -4.9% Palladium 729.25 -13.10 -1.8% -8.8%
Gold Fix 1514.75 -6.25 -0.4% 7.4% Silver Fix 34.73 -128.00 -3.6% 13.4% Platinum Fix 1696.00 10.00 0.6% -2.0% Palladium Fix 739.00 5.00 0.7% -6.6%
(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper and Silvia Antonioli in London, Manolo Serapio Jr in Singapore; Editing by Carole Vaporean)
Tuesday March 01, 2011 05:35:20 AM GMT
* Unrest in Yemen, Oman, Libya fuels safe-haven buying
* Middle East, N. Africa tensions support oil, hit dollar
* Silver prices set for 20 pct rise in February
* Coming up: Fed’s Bernanke Congress testimony Tue, Wed. (Recasts, updates prices, market activity; changes byline, dateline, previously LONDON)
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Gold was little changed near $1,410 an ounce on Monday but notched its biggest monthly gain since August as chaos in Libya and rising tensions across the Middle East prompted investors to buy the metal as a safe haven.
Despite its February gains, gold failed to test its record high set in December due to technical resistance, as financial markets had already factored in the geopolitical risk premium for gold, analysts said.
Unrest across the Middle East and North Africa, which unseated leaders in Tunisia and Egypt before spreading across Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and other countries, fueled a 5.5 percent rise in gold prices this month.
“It requires some spreading of the political turmoil and an intensification in those other countries to see gold make much bigger gains,” said Mitsubishi analyst Matthew Turner.
Turner said it will be difficult for gold to rise further after breaching $1,400 an ounce. Bullion set an all-time high of $1,430.95 an ounce on Dec. 7.
Spot gold eased 0.2 percent to $1,406 an ounce at 2:40 p.m. EST (1940 GMT). U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled up 60 cents at $1,409.90.
Foreign powers accelerated efforts to help oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Monday as rebels fought government forces trying to take back strategic coastal cities on either side of the capital Tripoli.
Last week, gold posted its fourth consecutive weekly gain as the crisis in Libya and soaring oil prices stoked inflation worries.
Silver gained 0.6 percent to $33.51 an ounce after rising for a fifth consecutive week last week. Prices have rallied 20 percent this month, their biggest one-month rise since May 2009.
The gold-silver ratio, which shows how many ounces of silver it takes to buy one ounce of gold, approached a 13-year low. Silver has risen amid limited supplies for near-term delivery and on prospects of rising demand for industrial metals as the economy recovers.
Hallgarten & Co, an investment research firm, said in a note that gold should benefit more as a safe haven than silver as investors focus on resurgent inflation and growing world tensions.
“On charts, gold is still tracing out a large base to consolidate its recent move, and the metal is expected to hold in a range until it breaks above resistance near $1,425 an ounce,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital.
DOLLAR DROP LIFTS GOLD
Gold was also supported by the U.S. dollar which fell to a 3-1/2 month low against major currencies and may extend losses on speculation Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will continue to support stimulative policy when he testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.
A mixed bag of economic data failed to give bullion a clear direction.
U.S. consumer spending rose modestly in January, getting the year off to a soft start. Other data painted a bullish picture of the manufacturing sector with a gauge of factory activity in the country’s Midwest hitting a 22-1/2 year high this month, which should help the economy weather rising oil prices.
Markets are still wary about inflation as oil prices remained elevated after hitting 2-1/2 year highs last week on the back of tensions across the Arab world.
UBS said in a note that higher oil prices are a double-edged sword for gold. While high oil prices could stimulate more safe-haven demand, gold could be vulnerable if central banks raise interest rates to battle inflation, it said.
Among other precious metals, platinum edged down 50 cents to $1,802.99 an ounce and palladium gained 1.1 percent to $794.22. (Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London; editing by Jim Marshall)