Earlier this week we discussed the very poor condition of the corn crop’s spring planting. Apparently, corn speculators are taking the data to heart. The chart below shows the percentage of outstanding open interest that represents the number of contracts speculators hold long net of their short positions. This data is released weekly in the CFTC’s Commitment of Traders report. As shown, corn speculators have abruptly about-faced from a historically large short position to a very small long. Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to track futures positioning across asset classes.
The change has been one of the largest in the last 20 years, equivalent to 11.4% of open interest. In other words, as corn prices have surged, positioning has been cleared out. That could be a good sign for where prices head next if you assume that speculators are going to keep pushing contracts higher by building longs. On the other hand, with positioning now cleaned out, the contrarian view is that markets are vulnerable to bearish moves now without large and vulnerable shorts that are sensitive to price moves higher.