Managed Money Ups Ante As Price Forecasts Rise

As prospects for rising live cattle futures prices increase, the level of participation by managed money increases.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly commitments of traders report as of the week ended Tuesday shows managed money’s net long position was 112,270 contracts, up from 103,924 the previous week, an 8.03% increase.

During the same week, producers’ short positions barely changed, with the CFTC reporting a net short position of 149,968 contracts, down only 0.46% from 150,666 a week earlier.

During the reporting week, Dec live cattle fell from the Wednesday, Sep. 10, record high of $161.75 to Tuesday’s low of $154.80 as total open interest rose 4.80% to 323,374 contracts from 308,551.

During that week, cash prices were firmer than many expected, and managed money traders were responding.  Cash prices during the week leading up to the CFTC report date were down only about $1.00 per cwt from the week before when they rocketed up about $7.

Many might have expected such a surge to be followed by similar declines in the following week, but this was not the case, and speculators may have picked up on some underlying strength.  Cash fed cattle prices in the Plains last week were off another $2, but the market still hasn’t filled the chart gap left by the sudden surge in early September.

The limited hedge filling by producers in the latest CFTC report goes along with limited cash action as packers try to resist paying higher prices as beef markets soften.




Managed money’s long positions in corn continued moving within a sideways channel during the latest reporting week, even though they rose on a week-to-week basis.

Managed money’s net long position rose 7,655 contracts, or 9.57%, in the latest week to 87,607 from 79,952 the previous week, the CFTC said.

At the same time, producers’ net short positions increased to 226,641 contracts from 213,850 the previous week, a 5.98% change.

During the reporting week, Dec corn futures rose to a spike high of $3.50 ½ a bushel on Tuesday, Sep. 16, from its contract low of $3.29 on Thursday, Sep. 11.  Since then, however, the market has turned lower amid phenomenal yield reports and favorable harvest weather.

Open interest during the CFTC reporting week rose 2.11% to 1.256 million contracts from 1.230 million the week before.

The combination of higher futures prices and higher open interest indicates new buyers are entering the market.  While technically an indication of a strong market, this kind of market can change quickly if traders feel it has become overbought as fresh longs may jump ship if they perceive a change.




Cash cattle last week traded $2 to $3 per cwt lower on a live basis at mostly $159, compared with a range of $161 to $162 the previous week.  Dressed prices were off $4 to $6 at $244 to $245 versus $248 to $251.

However, light volume last week indicates more cattle could be on feedlot showlists this week, which could pressure prices for another week.  Some would say the market should come back down and fill the early September chart gap before moving up again anyway just to give the market the stability it needs for a long-term run.

The USDA reported its choice cutout value Friday at $243.71 per cwt, down $1.17 on the day.  Select beef was off $2.48 to $229.61.

For the week, choice was down $6.22, or 2.49%, from $249.93, and select was down $4.93, or 2.10%, from $234.54.

Feeder cattle futures hit record highs last week as the CME Feeder Cattle Index rose.  Friday’s index was $230.28, up $0.04 on the day.