Column: Funds nearly erased net long in CBOT corn through early March

Jeff Gormong stands in a corn field on his farm near Terre Haute
Jeff Gormong stands in a corn field on his farm near Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S. October 29, 2019. Picture taken October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

NAPERVILLE, Illinois, March 16 (Reuters) - Money managers sold a record amount of Chicago-traded corn at the end of February, and they continued a relatively heavier selling pace through the first days of March.

However, they pushed their bullish soybean meal bets to a new record and bought a respectable amount of beans, though investors’ pessimism toward CBOT wheat increased even further.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Thursday afternoon published its Commitments of Traders (CoT) report for the week ended March 7. The data has been on delayed release for over a month, but it will be up to date on Friday if CFTC makes its regularly scheduled publication.

In the week ended March 7, moves in most-active CBOT futures were as follows: corn +0.6%, soybeans +2.5%, wheat -1.1%, soymeal +4.4%, soyoil -2.3%.

Despite the stabilization of corn prices following the prior week’s sell-off, investors continued selling. Money managers in the week ended March 7 reduced their net long in CBOT corn futures and options to 21,058 contracts from 68,635 a week earlier, against expectations that they largely held their position steady.

About 70% of that move was an increase in gross corn shorts versus 45% a week earlier, when money managers’ net selling in corn futures and options hit a record 147,293 contracts. The fund corn long as of March 7 was the smallest since September 2020.

Money managers through March 7 increased their net long in CBOT soybean futures and options to 157,330 contracts from 129,610 a week earlier, and new longs were the more prominent factor. They also reduced their net long in CBOT soybean oil to 20,526 futures and options contracts from 28,093 in the prior week.

The managed money net long in CBOT soybean meal futures and options reached another record high of 155,063 contracts as of March 7, up more than 15,000 on the week, almost entirely on new longs. Other reportable traders also bought meal, pushing the combined speculative stance to a new record of 174,900 contracts.

Through March 7, money managers increased their net short in CBOT wheat futures and options by nearly 9,000 contracts to 100,636 contracts, their most bearish since January 2018. New gross shorts were prominent in the latest three weeks.

Money managers in K.C. wheat futures and options established their most bearish stance since August 2020, flipping to a net short of 10,420 contracts from a net long of 337 a week earlier. They also sold more than 3,500 Minneapolis wheat contracts through March 7, flipping to a net short of 3,029.

Between March 7 and March 16, most-active CBOT futures traded as follows: corn -0.2%, soybeans -1.6%, wheat +0.1%, meal -2.8%, soyoil -1.6%.

Managed money combined net position in CBOT/MGEX futures and options

Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

Writing by Karen Braun Editing by Matthew Lewis

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Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.

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As a columnist for Reuters, Karen focuses on all aspects of the global agriculture markets with a primary focus in grains and oilseeds. Karen comes from a strong science background and has a passion for data, statistics, and charts, and she uses them to add context to whatever hot topic is driving the markets. Karen holds degrees in meteorology and sometimes features that expertise in her columns. Follow her on Twitter @kannbwx for her market insights.