* Managed money net longs at $70 bln vs $67 bln year ago
* Crude oil open interest down from $8 bln to $1.3 bln
* Changes due to price moves, shift in trading positions
* Global macro trends seen lending more volatility in 2013
By Barani Krishnan
Jan 4 Hedge funds and other big speculators held
just over $70 billion worth of bullish bets on U.S. commodities
as the year began, barely changed from 12 months ago, after two
weak quarters offset price gains from the rest of 2012, data
Holdings in oil saw some of the most dramatic shifts in
value over the year. Open interest in U.S. crude held by
money managers fell from 77,717 lots worth about $8 billion to
just around 13,391 lots valued at less than $1.3 billion,
according to data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading
Total value of all net long contracts in U.S. commodity
futures under the so-called "managed money" classification stood
at $70.4 billion on Jan. 1, versus $66.8 billion on Jan. 3,
2012, CFTC figures compiled and calculated by Reuters showed.
The change in value was subject to price movements as well
shift in trading positions.
Commodity markets saw particularly volatile moves in 2012,
starting the year strong before being depressed in the second
quarter by Europe's debt crisis.
Prices rebounded in the third quarter, with grains markets
especially buoyed by the worst U.S. drought in half a century.
But as the final quarter beckoned, markets resumed their
downtrend on worries over China's slowing economy and a fiscal
crisis in the United States.
"The phenomenal ups and downs in the CFTC data shows
investors are still concerned with the broader global macro
threats which constantly affect commodity prices," said Adam
Sarhan at New York's Sarhan Capital.
While tentative signs have emerged that the euro zone
economy could have passed the worst of its downturn, a recovery
still looks some months away, a business survey issued this week
by influential survey compiler Markit showed.
In the United States, many lawmakers and their aides fear
things may get more toxic through a series of bitter struggles
expected in the next few months over the nation's debt and
deficit burdens. At stake is the U.S. government's ability to
get its finances under control and whether it might default on
debts and suffer further downgrades in the U.S. credit rating.
Some commodities showed strong builds in net long positions
as the new year began, while others exhibited heavier bets on
the short side that pressured prices.
The net long position in cotton held by money managers rose
for a fourth straight week.
In natural gas, hedge funds and speculators cut net longs
for a fifth week running.