Gold positions slump as $55 billion erased from funds

Worst Performer

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension fund, said raw materials were the worst- performing asset class in the portfolio during the 12 months through April, dropping 9.8%. All other asset groups increased. Banks from Citigroup Inc. to Goldman Sachs Inc. have said the decade-long commodity bull market is ending after higher prices spurred expansions at mines, farms and oil fields.

Bullish bets on crude climbed 13% to 262,239 contracts, the highest since February 2012, CFTC data show. Prices last week capped the first loss in three weeks on concern that a cash crunch in China may further slow growth in an economy that’s already cooling. Platinum holdings slumped 16% to a three-week low. Prices fell 5.4% in New York last week, the most since December 2011.

Investors increased their net-short position in copper to 29,018 contracts, from 18,722 a week earlier, CFTC data show. Prices fell for a sixth week, the longest slump in a year. Stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange have more than doubled this year.

Farm Bets

A measure of net-long positions across 11 agricultural products fell 7.9% to 296,081 futures and options, as soybean and cattle holdings dropped. Bearish wheat holdings expanded to 29,431 contracts from 16,697 a week earlier. The money managers have held a net-short position since December. Prices dropped 9.4% this year. Bullish corn bets declined 9.8% to 74,405, the lowest since May 21.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects domestic corn and soybean output will rise to records in 2013, rebounding from a drought last year that damaged crops and eroded supplies. The agency will update its forecast of planted acreage on June 28.

“The overall outlook is going to be a real challenge for commodities, particularly with the kind of news we’re getting out of China and the emerging markets,” said Christian Wagner, who oversees $250 million as chief investment officer of Longview Capital Management LLC in Wilmington, Delaware. “Investors are going to have to pick their spots.”

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