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CoT Report (Commitment of Traders Report)

The Commitments of Traders Report, also known as the CoT or COT report, is one of the most important publications in the U.S. futures market, so it is also of interest to gold futures traders. It is usually published every Friday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to provide market participants with a breakdown of open interest positions (i.e., the total number of futures contracts not yet liquidated by an offsetting transaction or fulfilled by delivery) of all major contracts that have more than 20 traders. Unfortunately, there is a three day lag between the report and the actual positioning of traders. Even though the report is issued on Friday, it contains Tuesday’s data.

Reports are available in both aggregated (also called legacy) and disaggregated format. The former provides a breakdown of aggregate positions held by three different groups of traders: commercials (also called hedgers), non-commercials (also called large speculators) and non-reportables (also called small speculators). The latter format disaggregates these three types of traders into four groups: commercials are split into producers/merchants/processors/users and swap dealers, while non-commercials are split into money managers and other reportable. In this version of the report, the CFTC does not distinguish non-reportables, given their minimal impact on the gold market, however, data on them are available. Both versions as of March 8, 2016, are presented below.

Figure 1: Gold COT report (legacy version), as of March 8, 2016 (source: www.cftc.gov).

Gold COT report (legacy version)

Figure 2: Gold COT report (disaggregated version), as of March 8, 2016 (source: www.cftc.gov).

Gold COT report (disaggregated version)

Moreover, because the U.S. futures exchanges also trade options on futures, there is a version of the CoT report called the futures-and-options-combined, which includes options positions. All versions are released in short and long formats. The latter provides all the information of the short format, but also shows the percentage of positions held by the largest four and eight traders.

Although the CoT report is released with a small delay, it is still a great tool for traders, since it allows investors to see what large Comex gold traders are doing. It gives important data on positioning that drives trends in the gold market – this is why data from the CoT reports can be used as a sentiment indicator in the gold market. The changes in positions of commercial traders and non-commercial traders are the most closely watched. The latter usually follow the trends in gold prices, while the commercial activity often moves in the direction opposite to the market trends.

We encourage you to learn more about gold – not only what the CoT report is and who the gold traders are, but also how to successfully use the CoT report in gold investing. A great way to start is to sign up for our gold newsletter today. It's free and if you don't like it, you can easily unsubscribe.

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