Technically Talking: COT Positioning – Volatility, Oil, Greenback, & Charges

During the last three weeks, we’ve mentioned the “sellable rally” within the markets. Nevertheless, one of many extra beautiful actions available in the market was in rates of interest which have fallen sharply in latest months as “deflation” and “financial weak spot” have develop into factors of concern for the Federal Reserve.

Simply final 12 months, the Federal Reserve was mountain climbing charges with the expectations of stronger financial progress and rising inflationary pressures from a good labor market. Nearly a 12 months later, the markets, and the White Home, are begging for the Fed to chop charges, and cease decreasing their stability sheet, because the financial knowledge has weakened considerably.

Regardless of these considerations, the markets stay inside attain of all-time highs because the market continues to disregard the dangers underneath the idea “this time is completely different” and the Fed will certainly “come to the rescue.”

Will that be the case? Nobody is aware of for certain. 

What we do know is that markets transfer based mostly on sentiment and positioning. This is smart contemplating that costs are affected by the actions of each consumers and sellers at any given time. Most significantly, when costs, or positioning, turns into too “one-sided,” a reversion at all times happens. As Bob Farrell’s Rule #9 states:

“When all consultants agree, one thing else is sure to occur.” 

So, how are merchants positioning themselves at present? 

Positioning Evaluate

The COT (Dedication Of Merchants) knowledge, which is exceptionally essential, is the sole supply of the particular holdings of the three key commodity-trading teams, particularly:

Business Merchants: this group consists of merchants that use futures contracts for hedging functions and whose positions exceed the reporting ranges of the CFTC. These merchants are often concerned with the manufacturing and/or processing of the underlying commodity.
Non-Business Merchants: this group consists of merchants that don’t use futures contracts for hedging and whose positions exceed the CFTC reporting ranges. They’re usually massive merchants corresponding to clearinghouses, futures fee retailers, international brokers, and so on.
Small Merchants: the positions of those merchants don’t exceed the CFTC reporting ranges, and because the title implies, these are often small merchants.

The info we’re all in favour of is the second group of Non-Business Merchants.

That is the group that speculates on the place they imagine the market is headed. When you would count on these people to be “smarter” than retail buyers, we discover they’re simply as topic to “human fallacy” and “herd mentality” as everybody else.

Subsequently, as proven within the sequence of charts beneath, we will check out their present internet positioning (lengthy contracts minus quick contracts) to gauge extreme bullishness or bearishness. Excluding the 10-12 months Treasury which I’ve in comparison with rates of interest, the others have been in comparison with the S&P 500.

Volatility Not Marking A Backside

The acute net-short positioning on the volatility index in early Might urged a peak to the advance from the December lows was possible. Nevertheless, whereas the short-positioning has been diminished over the past a number of weeks because the market has corrected, there’s nonetheless a large short-position which exists.

Given that almost all “bottoms” happen when short-VIX positioning has been totally reversed, the complacency of the latest decline suggests disappointment by the Federal Reserve, a failure of any progress on commerce, or another financial system shock, might result in a deeper decline. 


Whereas the market did bounce following the sell-off in Might, as we’ve been discussing in our sequence on a “Sellable Rally,” that rally is going on throughout the confines of a longer-term “promote sign,” (higher panel) and falling quantity. Traditionally, when each the “promote sign” turns decrease, and the “quantity sign” turns greater, such has marked essential tops for the market.

It’s possible the continuation of the correction will happen as we head into July and August.

Crude Oil Excessive

The latest try by crude oil to get again above $60/bbl coincided with a “mad rush” by merchants to be lengthy the commodity. Nevertheless, they didn’t keep in mind the constructing provide of crude oil within the face of a drop in demand amidst a slowing financial backdrop. Crude merchants at present stay very “lengthy” the commodity, regardless of the latest drop again to $50/bbl, as we warned our RIA PRO subscribers (Strive 30-Days FREE)

A month in the past, we famous the rally in oil had gotten means forward of itself within the face of constructing provides and that the danger was clearly to the draw back. We additionally famous that if assist at $60 failed, together with the 200-dma, the danger was to the mid- to low-$50’s.
Regardless of the Iran problem final week, provide builds proceed to weigh on oil costs. Help is at $50/bbl. A break beneath that may be a complete different problem and can possible point out the onset of recession.
Oil stays deeply oversold, so a counter-trend bounce in oil costs won’t be shocking. Such could be together with a market rally on constructive information from the Fed and the G-20 assembly.

It’s value noting that crude oil positioning can be extremely correlated to general actions of the S&P 500 index. Subsequently, a deeper reversal in oil costs will possible coincide with an additional correction within the S&P 500.

Whereas oil costs might definitely fall beneath $40/bbl for quite a lot of causes, the latest bottoming of oil costs round  $45/bbl ought to present some cheap assist (barring an financial recession.)

US Greenback Excessive

Latest weak spot within the greenback has been used as a rallying name for the bulls. Nevertheless, a reversal of US Greenback positioning has not been extraordinarily sharp and there stays a pretty big long-bias to greenback positioning. Importantly, as proven within the chart beneath, the reversal of dollar-long positioning is often reflective of short- to intermediate-term market peaks.

As proven above, and beneath, such net-long positions have typically marked each a brief to intermediate-term weak spot within the greenback. The excellent news is weak greenback ought to bode effectively for each oil and gold costs which commerce globally in U.S. dollars. 

It is usually value watching the net-short positioning the Euro-dollar as effectively. Traditionally, when positioning within the Eurodollar turns into NET-LONG, as it’s at present, such has been related to short- to intermediate corrections within the markets, together with outright bear markets. The reversal remains to be early however value watching carefully.

Curiosity Charge Excessive

One of many greatest conundrums for the monetary market “consultants” is why rates of interest fail to rise. Earlier this 12 months, I wrote “The Bond Bull Market” which was a comply with as much as our earlier name for a pointy drop in charges because the financial system slowed. That decision was based mostly on the intense “net-short positioning” in bonds which urged a counter-trend rally was possible.

The final time I wrote this report I said:

“The reversal of the net-long positioning in Treasury bonds will possible push bond yields decrease over the following few months. This can speed up if there’s a“risk-off” rotation within the monetary markets within the weeks forward.”

Each issues occurred.

Nevertheless, as proven within the up to date chart beneath, regardless of the sharp drop in charges, merchants are nonetheless betting on a surge in charges and the net-short positioning on the 10-year Treasury is on the second highest stage on report. Mixed with the latest spike in Eurodollar positioning, as famous above, it suggests that there’s a excessive chance that charges will fall additional within the months forward; probably in live performance with the onset of a recession. 

The chart beneath seems to be at net-short positioning ONLY when net-short contracts exceed 100,000. Since peaks in net-short contracts typically coincide with peaks in rates of interest, it suggests there’s extra room for charges to fall at present. 

Amazingly, buyers appear to be residing in a world with none perceived dangers and a sturdy perception that the monetary markets are NOT in danger. The arguments supporting these beliefs are based mostly on comparisons to earlier peak market cycles and present positioning suggests merchants imagine the “bulls” will prevail. 

Sadly, they are usually flawed on the extremes.

The inherent drawback with a lot of the mainstream evaluation is that it assumes the whole lot stays established order. However knowledge, markets, economies, and liquidity are by no means the identical. The query is just what can go flawed for the market?

In a phrase, “a lot.”

With retail positioning very long-biased, as proven within the chart beneath, the latest correction has not imposed a stage of “concern” that might denote a extra lasting market backside has been put into place.

The opposite well-known Bob Farrell Rule to recollect: 

“#5 – The general public buys probably the most on the high and the least on the backside.”

Simply because a warning doesn’t instantly translate right into a adverse consequence, doesn’t imply you shouldn’t pat consideration to it. It’s akin to always operating crimson lights and by no means moving into an accident. We start to assume we’re expert at operating crimson lights, relatively than simply being fortunate. Ultimately, your luck will run out.

Concentrate, have a plan, and act accordingly.

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