January 5, 2018 / 9:49 PM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Speculators raise net short dollar bets, trim bitcoin shorts-CFTC, Reuters data

 (Adds details on dollar, bitcoin contracts, comments, table,
    By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
    NEW YORK, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Speculators raised net short
U.S. dollar bets this week, pushing them to their highest level
since mid-December, according to calculations by Reuters and
Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.
    The value of the net short dollar positions, derived from
net positions of International Monetary Market speculators in
the yen, euro, British pound, Swiss franc and Canadian and
Australian dollars, was $4.62 billion in the week ended Jan. 2,
up from net shorts of around $460 million the previous week.
   In a wider measure of dollar positioning that
includes net contracts on the New Zealand dollar, Mexican peso,
Brazilian real and Russian ruble, the U.S. dollar posted a net
short position valued at $5.433 billion, compared with $1.079
billion the week before.
    Net short U.S. dollar contracts rose after declining for
three straight weeks, underscoring negative sentiment on the
greenback despite the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates
this year.
    Speculators, meanwhile, pared back net short positions on
bitcoin futures traded on Cboe Global Markets to 1,688 contracts
this week, from 1,801 the previous week, CFTC data showed.
    Digital currency bitcoin has been on a roller-coaster ride
the last few months. After hitting an all-time high just shy of
$20,000 on Dec. 17 on the Bitstamp platform, it plunged more
than 40 percent in five days to a low of $11,159.93. That
highlighted the volatility of an asset that has attracted
interest from both individual and institutional investors. 
    Bitcoin has since stabilized and on Friday was trading up
more than 10 percent to $16,692. For the whole of
2017, bitcoin had risen more than 1,300 percent, the most
increase in value by any asset.
    "There will be some betting big that 2017 can't repeat
itself for bitcoin and that there will be a pullback - although
at present they seem to have egg on their faces," said Charles
Hayter, founder of industry website Cryptocompare in London.
    Hayter though expects bitcoin to remain volatile this year,
but sees the entire cryptocurrency market expanding with new
investment instruments focused on the space.
    In the case of the dollar, sentiment remained negative, with
analysts seeing little upside in the currency because all the
good news such as the rate increases and the U.S. tax plan have
already been priced in by investors. 
    Some analysts also have little faith in the Federal Reserve
being able to push through with its forecast of three rate hikes
this year given persistently low inflation.
    For the week, the dollar index ended down 0.1 percent, after
posting losses of 10 percent in 2017.
    Japanese Yen (Contracts of 12,500,000 yen) 
 $13.556 billion
         02 Jan 2018            Prior week
 Long             39,592            44,269
 Short           161,358           160,355
 Net            -121,766          -116,086
EURO (Contracts of 125,000 euros)
 $-19.271 billion
         02 Jan 2018            Prior week
 Long            236,808           208,913
 Short           108,940           116,765
 Net             127,868            92,148
POUND STERLING (Contracts of 62,500 pounds sterling)
 $-1.379 billion
         02 Jan 2018           Prior week
 Long             93,611           76,354
 Short            77,376           63,678
 Net              16,235           12,676
SWISS FRANC (Contracts of 125,000 Swiss francs)
 $2.089 billion
         02 Jan 2018           Prior week
 Long             24,984           31,959
 Short            41,216           45,861
 Net             -16,232          -13,902
CANADIAN DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 Canadian dollars)
 $-1.178 billion
         02 Jan 2018           Prior week
 Long             49,297           42,372
 Short            34,558           25,026
 Net              14,739           17,346
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 Aussie dollars)
 $1.568 billion 
         02 Jan 2018           Prior week
 Long             45,175           38,210
 Short            65,201           51,849
 Net             -20,026          -13,639
MEXICAN PESO (Contracts of 500,000 pesos)
 $-0.897 billion
         02 Jan 2018           Prior week
 Long             93,804           87,576
 Short            58,746           51,192
 Net              35,058           36,384
NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 New Zealand dollars)
 $1.206 billion 
         02 Jan 2018           Prior week
 Long             15,509           18,140
 Short            32,494           35,726
 Net             -16,985          -17,586
 (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Diane Craft
and Susan Thomas)
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