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Equity Futures Market: $37.5 billion sold Year To Date As Managers Pile Into Cash

Asset managers have been dumping U.S. equity futures rapidly, the latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows. The data indicates that they’ve upped their short exposure in equity futures for the Russell 2000 while cutting their longs in the NASDAQ 100 and S&P 500. In other asset classes, they continue to build their U.S. Treasury futures and went further long on gold and silver.

$37.5 billion in U.S. equity futures sold year to date

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts Jue Xiong and Stephen Suttmeier released their analysis of last week’s CFTC data in a report dated Feb. 12. They report that Asset Managers cut their long positions on S&P 500 futures to the tune of $3.2 billion last week, bringing their position to $21.3 billion. Meanwhile leveraged funds slashed $8.8 billion off their short positioning in the asset, bringing it to -$33.5 billion.

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Managers also cut their long positioning in the NASDAQ 100, trimming $1.2 billion off their equity futures positioning in the index to bring it to $4.3 billion. Leveraged funds went in the opposite direction on the index, however, adding $0.3 billion to their long to bring it to $0.4 billion.

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Asset managers upped their short equity futures positioning in the Russell 2000 by $1.8 billion, making them now short by $10.9 billion on futures for the index. Leveraged funds cut their short positioning by $1.7 billion to -$4 billion, said BAML.

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The new asset manager net positioning hit a new three-year low for the NASDAQ 100 and Russell 2000 and is approaching a three-year low in the S&P 500.  The firm adds that asset managers sold a total of $37.5 billion in U.S. equity futures through Feb. 9, while leveraged funds have only sold $6.2 billion. Additionally, Xiong and Suttmeier said managers unloaded $6.3 billion across the three major indices last week.

Managers keep gobbling up Treasury futures

Last week asset managers purchased $7.9 billion in U.S. Treasuries, focusing on the 10-year and 2-year notes. They added $2.1 billion to their long positioning in 10-year notes, bringing the total to $42.2 billion, while leveraged funds went further short to the tune of $2.9 billion, bringing their net short position to -$31.5 billion.

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Asset managers added $6.3 billion to their 2-year note longs to bring their positioning to $26.9 billion, hitting a new three-year high. Meanwhile leveraged funds slashed their long exposure $6.3 billion to $1.4 billion.

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On 30-year Treasuries, asset managers trimmed their long positioning by $0.4 billion, bringing it to $9.6 billion, while leveraged funds went further short, bringing their total to -$2.1 billion.

Gold, silver still hot

In currencies, leveraged funds have snapped up $9.3 billion in EUR/USD and $5.2 billion in JPY/USD year to date. Asset managers bought JPY/USD and EUR/USD last week.

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Gold and silver were too hot to handle last week as managed money more than doubled its long in gold futures to $4 billion while their silver long climbed 59% to $3.1 billion. Managers cut their short in copper futures 60% to -$0.4 billion last week.

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