(Repeats Friday's story, no change to text)
* Natgas sees nearly $2 billion in new long money
* Corn sees almost $1 billion in fresh inflow
By Barani Krishnan
March 15 Hedge funds and other big speculators
raised their bullish bets on U.S. commodities for the first time
in five weeks, piling mostly into natural gas and corn due to
favorable supply and demand situations, trade data showed on
Natural gas saw close to $2 billion worth of new net long
contracts by the so-called money managers during the week to
March 12, according to Reuters calculations of the data released
by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Corn had almost $1 billion in fresh inflow, the CFTC's
weekly report on commodity trader positions showed. The report
is compiled at the close of each Tuesday and issued on Fridays.
The broadly optimistic mood among hedge funds and
speculators during the week to March 12 raised the net-long
managed money across 22 commodity markets to more than $59
billion from around $54 billion at the close of March 5.
The rise of about $5 billion was the first in five weeks,
and came after the net-long money had fallen to a 15-month low,
Reuters records of the CFTC reports showed.
Nearly $30 billion in net managed long money was wiped out
over the past month as hedge funds and other non-commercial
investors cut their commodity holdings on fear about the global
economic recovery. Some of that money went into equities as the
key Dow index for U.S. stocks hit record highs.
In the case of natural gas, the net long position held by
money managers hit a three-year high for the week to March 12 as
cold weather drove U.S. demand for gas used in heating.
Gas contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX)
saw a net inflow of $1.2 billion from hedge funds and other
speculators. Gas positions on the InterContinental Exchange
(ICE) saw a net long build of nearly $600 million.
In Friday's trade, the front-month natural gas contract on
NYMEX hit a 3-1/2-month high of $3.924 per million
British thermal units after forecasts for more cold weather in
key U.S. consuming regions next week.
Traders said the chart picture for gas looked supportive,
with the front-month contract having broken through several key
resistance levels on its 25 percent rally from a five-week low
of $3.125 per mmBtu hit in mid-February.
But some cautioned that the impending end of winter could
provide resistance to higher prices.
"As we've been noting, however, the market is in full
weather-driven mode here and is only as strong as the underlying
forecast, and will see a downside test once the weather pattern
changes," said Citi Futures energy specialist Tim Evans.
The net long managed money in corn rose by nearly $920
The key second-month corn contract on the Chicago Board of
Trade rallied in four of the five sessions during the week
to March 12, reaching a near five-week high of $7.17-3/4 a
The run-up came after the U.S. Department of Agriculture
kept to a surprisingly-modest ending stocks forecast of 632
million bushels for corn in the current season -- the smallest
supply in 17 years versus market expectations for an uptick in
(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)