Commercial participants in the gold market, also known as "smart money" given that they work in the industry as opposed to being speculative trend followers, are the most bullish on gold in nearly five years.
As prices declined over the last few months, commercials - those involved in the production, processing or merchandising of a commodity - have been busy buying futures contracts and covering short positions, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Their position rose from a low of a net short 269,270 contracts in October 2012 to the present net short position of 84,122, notes a report from Euro Pacific Canada today. This means commericials initiated new long positions, and covered previous shorts, resulting in an increase in their total net position by just over 185,000 contracts.
It's a different case for the other two groups that the CFTC tracks in the commodity futures markets.
Large traders, mostly made up of hedge funds that are often trend followers, are currently net long 83,726 contracts - the most bearish reading since the October 2008 bottom. The group tends to be the most bearish at market bottoms and the most bullish at market tops, suggests Euro Pacific Canada analyst Dima Kash.
The third group, small traders, are those that control a very small portion of open interest in futures contracts, but their actions tend to help gauge retail sentiment nonetheless. Historically, they have been on the wrong side of the gold market at key inflection points, according to Mr. Kash. The group this month had a net short position of 1,704 contracts, an extremely bearish reading not seen since February 2001 when the gold market was about to begin its decade-long bull-market run.
Mr. Kash's conclusion? "The current dynamics between the three groups signal that a significant intermediate-term bottom is forming in the gold market. This does not necessarily mean that prices cannot head lower, but it does mean that prices are attracting commercial buying interest – the smart money – at levels not seen since the financial crisis when gold declined from about $1,000 an ounce and hit a critical low at about $700 an ounce," he said.
He thinks the key for investors now is to look for signs of a bottom, and technicals point to some important clues.
Click here to see Mr. Kash's full report, which Euro Pacific has given us permission to republish in its entirety. It provides some interesting charts on the three group's positioning in the futures market, as well as his technical analysis.