(Kitco News) - Speculators shed bullish positions in U.S. gold, silver and platinum futures and options contracts traded on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange and on the Nymex as prices fell, according to U.S. government data released Friday.

For the week ended April 24, speculators in the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly commitment of traders report reduced their net-long positions in those precious-metals markets for both the disaggregated and legacy reports. Speculators’ net-long positions in copper and palladium rose.

For the week covered by this CFTC report, Comex June gold futures lost $7.30 to close at $1,643.80 an ounce on April 24. May silver fell 92.8 cents to $30.746 an ounce and Nymex July platinum dropped $36.60 to $1,548.10. Meanwhile, Nymex June palladium rose $28.95 to $665.80 and Comex May copper gained 2.55 cents to $3.6725 per pound. Both palladium and copper prices rallied further after the reporting cut-off date.

Managed-money accounts whittled down their net-long position in gold, cutting it to 107,600 contracts, reversing the modest gain made in the previous report. Managed-money accounts trimmed 2,225 gross longs and added 2,450 gross shorts. Producers and swap dealers both reduced their net-short positions by adding to gross longs and trimming gross shorts.

This is the smallest net-long position for managed-money accounts since the disaggregated report for gold began in September 2009.

Non-commercials in the legacy report also decreased their net-long gold position, having sliced 3,018 gross longs and added 4,366 gross shorts. They are now net-long 139,449 contracts. Commercials are net short, but also reduced that position by adding to gross longs and cutting gross shorts.

Edel Tully, precious-metals strategist at UBS, said given that speculators are holding on to very small net-long positions, “the dearth of gold gross longs likely limits further liquidation; the question is to what extent shorts are willing to stretch their positions.”

The silver net-long position for the managed-money accounts fell to 10,756 contracts. The decline came from adding 2,883 gross shorts and adding 248 gross longs, meaning new short positions were established. Producers remain net-short, but decreased that position as they added more gross longs than shorts. Swap dealers are net long and added exposure, lifting gross longs and cutting gross shorts.

In the legacy report, the silver net-long for non-commercials mirrored the disaggregated report. They added 3,107 gross shorts and added 343 gross longs, lowering their net long position to 18,546 contracts. Commercials cut their net-short position by raising gross long positions and cutting gross shorts.

Managed-money accounts in platinum decreased their net-long position to 9,747 contracts, having cut 702 gross longs and added 1,299 gross shorts. Non-commercials continued to reduce their net-long position, which now is 15,010 contracts, having cut 563 gross longs and added 2,331 gross shorts.  

Commerzbank analysts said platinum’s drop under 10,000 contracts for the disaggregated report is a first since this report started for PGMs in December 2009. “In our opinion, this fall was due mainly to fears of a significant cool down in China. The Purchasing Managers’ Index due to be published tomorrow should give us some indication of whether such fears are justified,” the bank said.

UBS’s Tully said the big rise in platinum gross shorts in the legacy report was the largest weekly increase in shorts posted in nearly 13 years.

In palladium, the managed-money accounts lifted their net-long position to 6,425 contracts. They cut 475 gross shorts and added 293 gross longs to raise their net-long position. In the legacy report, non-commercials slightly raised gross longs by 137 contracts but decreased shorts by 735 contracts, ultimately raising their net-long to 7,199 contracts.

Speculators are cautiously returning to copper. The copper net-long position for the managed-money accounts rose by a few contracts to 2,217 contracts as they cut a few more gross shorts than gross longs. Funds also raised their net long position in the legacy report; here, too, cutting more gross shorts than longs. They are net-long 2,349 contracts.

For further information, see the CFTC’s website: http://www.cftc.gov/MarketReports/CommitmentsofTraders/index.htm

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By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News dcarlson@kitco.com


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