Commitments of Traders Reports
The Commitments of Traders (COT) reports show futures traders' positions at the close of (usually) Tuesday's trading session. The report is prepared by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) whose task is to oversee futures markets.
Open interest is the total of all futures and or option contracts entered into and not yet offset by a transaction, by delivery, by exercise, etc. The total of all long open interest is equal to the total of all short open interest.
The net position is calculated by subtracting the number of longs from the number of shorts.
Commercial traders represent companies that use the futures market to offset risk in the cash or spot markets. This category include producers, merchants, processors, user and swap dealers. These are primarily large industrial firms such as Coca-cola or BP that might take futures positions on currencies in order to hedge their overseas earnings. As these transactions are often hedges, you’ll see the commercial traders often buying in the opposite direction to the one you would expect. In COT analysis they are sometimes referred to as the ‘smart money’.
Large speculators (non-commercial traders) are institutional investors and hedge funds that speculate on commodity prices to profit from short-term or long-term movements.
Small speculators (non-reporting traders) are not required to report their positions to the CFTC. Oftentimes, these are smaller, inexpericened traders and not always accurate at predicting market trends.