Near-Record Gold Shorting

Still gold defied the surging stock markets to rally like usual, climbing back to $1322 by March 25th.The gold-futures speculators were responsible, adding 20.4k new long contracts while covering 15.4k short ones in the CoT week ending a day later. That was the equivalent of 111.3t of gold buying. But over the next CoT week, that reversed into heavy selling. That again surrounded gold plunging back under $1300.

For decades now I’ve intensely studied and closely watched the markets in real-time. I get up at 5am and follow the data and news feeds until 4pm or later. Usually when gold or the stock markets make some big intraday move, it’s explainable by news or data. Neither gold’s 1.7% plunge on March 1st, nor its later 1.4% drop on March 28th, had any apparent catalysts! But both days saw gold break back below $1300.

Running extreme leverage up to 37.5x, gold-futures speculators can’t afford to be wrong for long. A mere 2.7% gold price move against their positions would wipe out 100% of their capital risked at such leverage! So these guys have to maintain an ultra-short-term price-dominated focus, and they have to run tight stop losses or risk quick ruin. Long-side gold-futures traders have long clustered stops near that key $1300 level.

So when gold falls back through $1300 from above, mechanical stop-loss orders start triggering resulting in forced long selling.That quickly pushes gold even lower, tripping more stops to fuel cascading selling. By the time the dust settled in that CoT week ending on April 2nd with gold battered back to $1291, total spec gold-futures longs had plummeted 35.3k contracts!They weren’t short selling then, as shorts fell 2.1k.

That massive long dump was again exceptional, ranking as the 18th largest ever witnessed out of 1057 CoT weeks since early 1999 at that point. Speculators can’t maintain such crazy selling rates for long, as just 7 weeks at that pace would drive their longs to zero which will never happen. For the second time in 4 CoT weeks, extreme spec gold-futures long selling hammered gold from well above $1300 to back below.

But gold soon started recovering even while investors mesmerized by stock euphoria exited. Gold again climbed up over $1300, hitting $1308 on April 10th. This metal really wants to power higher even with investment capital fleeing to chase the lofty stock markets. Yet once again extreme gold-futures selling erupted in the latest CoT week reported before this essay was published, which ended last Tuesday April 16th.

For the third time in 7 weeks, extreme gold-futures selling flared as gold passed back down below $1300. Once again there were no significant data or news catalysts around the world, gold-futures selling just snowballed to a stunning degree. That CoT week total spec longs dropped another 17.5k contracts, close to that 20k+ huge threshold. But total spec shorts exploded an utterly-astounding 36.9k contracts higher!

That single-CoT-week shorting was so crazy it ranked as the 2nd highest ever witnessed out of the 1059 CoT weeks since early 1999! The only bigger shorting week was back in mid-November 2015, soon after the Fed telegraphed its first rate hike of the recent cycle.Yet that record shorting would soon prove very bullish for gold, birthing a major bull market.Gold surged 29.9% higher in 6.7 months in the first half of 2016.

Considered together in that latest reported CoT week ending April 16th, speculators’ total long and short selling rocketed to 54.4k contracts! That is the 5th highest on record, incredibly extreme. The 1st and 4th weighed in at 70.4k and 56.7k, and both occurred in December 2017. That record gold-futures selling also proved very bullish, as gold soon surged sharply to challenge a major bull-market breakout above $1350.

Big gold-futures selling is always bullish for gold, because those bearish bets will soon be unwound with proportional buying. This current episode won’t prove an exception, especially with near-record shorting. While making bullish long-side gold-futures trades is voluntary, short covering is mandatory. Shorting is effectively borrowing gold futures that traders don’t own, those contracts have to be repurchased and paid back.

Between gold’s latest interim high in mid-February to this extreme latest-reported CoT week, total spec longs collapsed 68.5k contracts or 22.5%.That’s a lot in a short span, leaving longs running just 32% up into their past-year trading range. That means specs easily have room to do over 2/3rds of their likely near-term long buying, and much more if higher gold prices excite traders enough to bet at previous years’ scales.

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Frank Underwood 2 months ago Member's comment

Good stuff.