Here is the quick analysis of the CFTC positions in futures and options by each market participant from January 2020:

Asset Managers – Institutional Investors

Institutional investors entered 2020 heavily long S&P 500. However, they started to sell in mid February as the pandemics started in China and continued reducing their net long positions into the March 23 bottom as the pandemics spread globally. However, they have not substantially increased their net long positions since March, and in fact, they have been reducing their net long positions in June near the March low level (over 60% below the Fed highs).

Leveraged Funds – Hedge Funds and CTAs

Hedge Funds and CTAs entered 2020 net short S&P 500 and they were reducing their net short positions right into the March 23rd bottom. However, since the March bottom, hedge funds have been steadily increasing their net short positions well above the pre-pandemics level. It appears that there is some evidence of short covering in June.

Other Reportable Positions

According to CFTC, all other traders that use futures and options to hedge business risk are classified as “other reportable positions). These include banks, corporations, and also central banks. It’s interesting to see that these “other traders” also entered 2020 net short S&P 500. However, a very mysterious buyer emerged right before the March 23rd bottom. Did the Fed buy S&P500 futures right at the bottom (directly or indirectly)? Who else could it be? Since March, “other reportable” traders also significantly increased the net-short positions, with some evidence of short covering in June.

The Point – Everybody is Bearish

Asset managers/Institutional investors have not increased their net long positions as the S&P500 roared since the March 23rd bottom. Hedge funds and other traders increased their net short positions since the March bottom. The only buyer at the bottom was likely the Fed (grouped with the other reportable category). This analysis is based only on futures/options positions as reported by CFTC..