(Bloomberg News) Hedge funds reduced bets on higher commodity prices to the lowest level since 2009 just as raw materials headed for their biggest weekly rally in two months.
Money managers cut their combined net-long position across 18 U.S. futures and options by 15 percent to 454,512 contracts in the week ended Dec. 20, the lowest since March 2009, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show. The Standard & Poor's GSCI gauge of 24 commodities climbed 4.5 percent last week, erasing this year's declines and pushing the index toward its third consecutive annual advance.
While the S&P GSCI is 15 percent below the 32-month high reached in April, prices gained last week on signs the U.S. economy is proving resilient. Durable-goods orders rose in November by the most in four months, and jobless claims unexpectedly fell to the lowest in more than three years. Concern that shortages will emerge in commodities from copper to crude oil spurred Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to stick with a bullish outlook this month even as funds cut their holdings.
"Commodities are in the process of bottoming," said James Paulsen, the Minneapolis-based chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, which oversees about $340 billion of assets. "You're going to find out that the U.S. economy is going to continue to grow much faster than people thought. You're going to see people coming back to commodities."
Last week's gain in the S&P GSCI was the biggest since Oct. 14 and left the gauge up 2.2 percent in 2011. It rose 20 percent in 2010 and 50 percent a year earlier. The MSCI All-Country World Index of equities climbed 3.1 percent last week, paring this year's decline to 9.3 percent. The U.S. Dollar Index, a measure against six trading partners, dropped 0.4 percent. The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed 18 basis points, or 0.18 percentage point, to 2.02 percent, Bloomberg Bond Trader prices show.
Twenty of the 24 raw materials tracked by the S&P GSCI rose last week. Gasoline surged 8 percent to $2.6872 a gallon. Wheat capped six consecutive daily advances, the longest winning streak since January. Oil added 6.6 percent, the biggest weekly gain since October. The commodity gauge climbed as much as 0.2 percent today.
Commodities will return 15 percent in the next 12 months, led by industrial metals and energy, because the global economy is likely to avoid another recession, Goldman said in a report Dec. 1. That's still the bank's view, Sophie Bullock, a London- based spokeswoman for the bank, said in an e-mail Dec. 15.
U.S. bookings for equipment meant to last at least three years rose 3.8 percent after no change in the prior month, a period that was previously reported as a contraction, data from the Commerce Department showed on Dec. 23. Sales of new U.S. homes rose in November to a seven-month high, the department said the same day.
The S&P GSCI is still headed for a 1.8 percent monthly decline after Europe's debt crisis escalated. Funds are net- short, or betting on price declines, in copper, cocoa, soybean meal, wheat, soybean oil and natural gas, CFTC data show. Crude- oil holdings fell 11 percent to the lowest since Oct. 18, and net-long positions in gold dropped 13 percent to the lowest since April 2009.