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Article posted Feb 25 2013, 12:11 AM Category: Economy Source: Bloomberg Print

Gold Bets Cut by Most Since '07

By Tony C. Dreibus

This is a good contrarian indicator for gold.Hedge funds cut bets on a rally in gold by the most since 2007 and became the most bearish ever on sugar and coffee as concern that the Federal Reserve will slow U.S. stimulus programs drove prices for raw materials to the biggest loss this year.

Money managers and other large speculators reduced their net-long position in gold futures and options by 40 percent in the week ended Feb. 19 to 42,318, the biggest drop since July 31, 2007, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Wagers across 18 U.S. raw materials tumbled to the lowest since December 2011 as investors’ net-short positions for sugar and coffee hit record highs. Bullish corn wagers fell the most since June 2010.

Global holdings of exchange-traded products backed by gold tumbled 1.6 percent last week, the most since August 2011, after minutes of a Fed policy meeting showed several officials said the central bank should be ready to vary the pace of their monthly bond purchases. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 commodities sank 2.6 percent, the most since Dec. 7. The gauge surged 85 percent in the four years through Dec. 31 as the Fed expanded its balance sheet to more than $3 trillion.

“The expectations and rhetoric out of the Fed about an exit strategy has spooked people, making them think the Fed is going to tighten stimulus,” James Dailey, who manages $215 million at TEAM Financial Asset Management LLC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said in a telephone interview. “There’s a confluence of weak gold owners, and people who don’t have a strong conviction about owning gold.”

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