CFTC implements COT report changes

As of Friday September 4, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will implement changes to its weekly Commitments of Traders (COT) reports first announced in July.

The CFTC will begin disaggregating the data in the weekly COT reports, which detail aggregated large-trader position data to document the changing composition of the markets.

From Friday, for data as of September 1, the CFTC will publish additional COT data for 22 contract markets, including major agriculture, energy and metals markets. The COT reports currently break traders into two broad categories: commercial and noncommercial. The new reports will expand this to four categories of traders: Producer/Merchant/Processor/User; Swap Dealers; Managed Money; and Other Reportables.

The CFTC intends to produce the same disaggregated data on all of the remaining physical commodity markets. The traditional COT reports will still be released until at least the end of 2009 to allow the public to become familiar with the new reports and to comment to the CFTC as to any further possible enhancements. The CFTC also plans to release three years of historical data for the new report.

It is also is working to create a new COT for all of the financial markets in a form that will improve the transparency of those markets. The categories of this new financial COT may be different from those being applied to the physical markets, described above. Concurrently, the Commission is working on improvements to the agency's Form 40 and other methodologies to improve the accuracy of trader classifications.

The CFTC also plans to release a quarterly update of data collected from an ongoing special call on swap dealers and index traders in the futures markets. The September 2008 Report on Swap Dealers and Index Traders published by the CFTC was based on data received from its special call authority. It continued this special call and enhanced the information disseminated in the September report. Starting Friday, September 4, the agency will begin releasing the data on a quarterly basis with a goal of eventually releasing it every month.

The new data will include both gross long and gross short positions and will update data in the previously released report to include some additional data.

The COT reports originated from a request by Congress for an annual report upon passage of original enabling legislation in the 1920's. They have been expanded over time into weekly reports in several formats, as well as a weekly Commodity Index Supplement for 12 agricultural markets that was launched in January 2007.

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