WHAT IS THE COT REPORT?
What Is the Commitments of Traders (COT) Report?
The Commitment of Traders (COT) report is a weekly publication that shows the aggregate holdings of different participants in the U.S. futures market. Published every Friday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) at 3:30 E.T., the COT report is a snapshot of the commitment of the classified trading groups as of Tuesday that same week. The report provides investors with up-to-date information on futures market operations and increases the transparency of these complex exchanges. It is used by many futures traders as a market signal on which to trade.
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 aggregate of all long open interest is equal to the aggregate of all short open interest.
Open interest held or controlled by a trader is referred to as that trader's position. For the COT Futures-and-Options-Combined report, option open interest and traders' option positions are computed on a futures-equivalent basis using delta factors supplied by the exchanges. Long-call and short-put open interest are converted to long futures-equivalent open interest. Likewise, short-call and long-put open interest are converted to short futures-equivalent open interest. For example, a trader holding a long put position of 500 contracts with a delta factor of 0.50 is considered to be holding a short futures-equivalent position of 250 contracts. A trader's long and short futures-equivalent positions are added to the trader's long and short futures positions to give "combined-long" and "combined-short" positions. Open interest, as reported to the Commission and as used in the COT report, does not include open futures contracts against which notices of deliveries have been stopped by a trader or issued by the clearing organization of an exchange.
Clearing members, futures commission merchants, and foreign brokers (collectively called reporting firms) file daily reports with the Commission. Those reports show the futures and option positions of traders that hold positions above specific reporting levels set by CFTC regulations. If, at the daily market close, a reporting firm has a trader with a position at or above the Commission's reporting level in any single futures month or option expiration, it reports that trader's entire position in all futures and options expiration months in that commodity, regardless of size. The aggregate of all traders' positions reported to the Commission usually represents 70 to 90 percent of the total open interest in any given market. From time to time, the Commission will raise or lower the reporting levels in specific markets to strike a balance between collecting sufficient information to oversee the markets and minimizing the reporting burden on the futures industry.
Commercial and Non-Commercial Traders
When an individual reportable trader is identified to the Commission, the trader is classified either as "commercial" or "non-commercial." All of a trader's reported futures positions in a commodity are classified as commercial if the trader uses futures contracts in that particular commodity for hedging as defined in CFTC Regulation 1.3(z), 17 CFR 1.3(z). A trading entity generally gets classified as a "commercial" trader by filing a statement with the Commission, on CFTC Form 40: Statement of Reporting Trader, that it is commercially "...engaged in business activities hedged by the use of the futures or option markets." To ensure that traders are classified with accuracy and consistency, Commission staff may exercise judgment in re-classifying a trader if it has additional information about the trader's use of the markets. A trader may be classified as a commercial trader in some commodities and as a non-commercial trader in other commodities. A single trading entity cannot be classified as both a commercial and non-commercial trader in the same commodity. Nonetheless, a multi-functional organization that has more than one trading entity may have each trading entity classified separately in a commodity. For example, a financial organization trading in financial futures may have a banking entity whose positions are classified as commercial and have a separate money-management entity whose positions are classified as non-commercial.
- Commercial (Large Hedgers) Report
- Non-Commerical Report
The long and short open interest shown as "Nonreportable Positions" is derived by subtracting total long and short "Reportable Positions" from the total open interest. Accordingly, for "Nonreportable Positions," the number of traders involved and the commercial/non-commercial classification of each trader are unknown.
THE DISAGGREGATED COMMITMENT OF TRADERS (DISAGGREGATED COT) REPORT
The Disaggregated COT report, covering only the major physical commodity markets, increases transparency from the legacy COT reports by separating traders into the following four categories of traders:
- Swap Dealers
- Managed Moneyundefined
- Other Reportables
The legacy COT report separates reportable traders only into "commercial" and "non-commercial" categories.
A "producer/merchant/processor/user" is an entity that predominantly engages in the production, processing, packing or handling of a physical commodity and uses the futures markets to manage or hedge risks associated with those activities.
A "swap dealer" is an entity that deals primarily in swaps for a commodity and uses the futures markets to manage or hedge the risk associated with those swaps transactions. The swap dealer's counter parties may be speculative traders, like hedge funds, or traditional commercial clients that are managing risk arising from their dealings in the physical commodity.
A "money manager," for the purpose of this report, is a registered commodity trading advisor (CTA); a registered commodity pool operator (CPO); or an unregistered fund identified by CFTC. These traders are engaged in managing and conducting organized futures trading on behalf of clients.
Every other reportable trader that is not placed into one of the other three categories is placed into the "other reportables" category.
THE COMMITMENT OF TRADERS FINANCIAL FUTURES (TFF) REPORT
The Traders in Financial Futures (TFF) builds on improvements to transparency in the CFTC’s weekly Commitments of Traders (COT) Reports. The new report separates large traders in the financial markets into the following four categories:
- Asset Manager/Institutional
- Leveraged Funds
- Other Reportables
The TFF report divides the financial futures market participants into the "sell side" and "buy side." This traditional functional division of financial market participants focuses on their respective roles in the broader marketplace, not whether they are buyers or sellers of futures/option contracts. The category called "dealer/intermediary," for instance, represents sellside participants. Typically, these are dealers and intermediaries that earn commissions on selling financial products, capturing bid/offer spreads and otherwise accommodating clients. The remaining three categories ("asset manager/institutional;" "leveraged funds;" and "other reportables") represent the buy-side participants. These are essentially clients of the sell-side participants who use the markets to invest, hedge, manage risk, speculate or change the term structure or duration of their assets.
Contents of the Traders in Financial Futures (TFF) Report
These participants are what are typically described as the "sell side" of the market. Though they may not predominately sell futures, they do design and sell various financial assets to clients. They tend to have matched books or offset their risk across markets and clients. Futures contracts are part of the pricing and balancing of risk associated with the products they sell and their activities. These include large banks (U.S. and non-U.S.) and dealers in securities, swaps and other derivatives.
The rest of the market comprises the "buy-side," which is divided into three separate categories:
These are institutional investors, including pension funds, endowments, insurance companies, mutual funds and those portfolio/investment managers whose clients are predominantly institutional.
These are typically hedge funds and various types of money managers, including registered commodity trading advisors (CTAs); registered commodity pool operators (CPOs) or unregistered funds identified by CFTC. The strategies may involve taking outright positions or arbitrage within and across markets. The traders may be engaged in managing and conducting proprietary futures trading and trading on behalf of speculative clients.
Reportable traders that are not placed into one of the first three categories are placed into the "other reportables" category. The traders in this category mostly are using markets to hedge business risk, whether that risk is related to foreign exchange, equities or interest rates. This category includes corporate treasuries, central banks, smaller banks, mortgage originators, credit unions and any other reportable traders not assigned to the other three categories.
Sources: Investopedia and Barchart
January 6, 2020