Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CFTC/NYMEX Come Clean and Revise Data on Oil Speculators

Well duh. You had smart guys* saying bubble, which implies paper trading, who cares what the CFTC says?
From 1440 Wall Street:
There were numerous plot twists in the movie Syriana, but the writers were not clever enough to think of this one. Conspiracy theorists take a bow:

A quiet data revision that has boosted by nearly 25% the number of oil futures contracts U.S. regulators think are held by speculators. And that revelation is raising eyebrows in the energy trading community.

The revision means that speculators controlled 48% of the open interest in NYMEX crude oil futures and options as of July 15—compared with just over 38% under the previous classification.

“That’s huge when you look at the numbers,” said Phil Flynn of Alaron Trading in Chicago. “It changes the whole way you look at the recent moves in this market.” The U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission announced on July 18 that it was reclassifying some trading positions that it had reported as commercial hedging positions as noncommercial speculative positions. The data revision converted approximately 327,000 long and 330,000 short NYMEX crude oil futures and options positions into mostly spreading positions held by speculators.

The big shift is all the more surprising, oil traders and analysts said, since the CFTC reclassified only one unidentified oil trader at the same time as the data revision....

*I commented at Environmental Capital last week:

...When as accomplished a commodities trader as Paul Tudor Jones says oil is a bubble, I don’t need to hear the opinions of apologists or economists and other amateurs.
When he’s backed up by Wilbur Ross, who bought into a decrepit Indian airline as the most leveraged bet he could find on falling oil, I tune out the chatter.
The public pension funds said they were long term investors.
They just passed 20% in declines. The next 20% will test their mettle.