Making Sense of Futures vs. Futures + Options Report

I use the Futures + Options report in lieu of the Futures only Commitments of Traders Report. The Futures + Options report is, obviously more comprehensive, and it is also the basis for the COT-Supplemental breakdown of Index Traders. Although the net position patterns may look almost identical for many markets, the actual position totals vary. This brings up an interesting point. In some markets, in some weeks, the totals for the Non-Commercial category may be larger on the Futures Only than on the Futures + Options report:

WHEAT -     CHICAGO BOARD OF TRADE                                       Code-001602  
FUTURES ONLY POSITIONS AS OF   04/15/08                         |  
--------------------------------------------------------------| NONREPORTABLE  
      NON-COMMERCIAL      |   COMMERCIAL    |      TOTAL      |   POSITIONS  
--------------------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------  
  LONG  | SHORT  |SPREADS |  LONG  | SHORT  |  LONG  | SHORT  |  LONG  | SHORT  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
(CONTRACTS OF 5,000 BUSHELS)                         OPEN INTEREST:      379,563  
COMMITMENTS  
  92,002   66,997   53,450  203,628  209,299  349,080  329,746   30,483   49,817  
  OPTION AND FUTURES COMBINED POSITIONS AS OF   04/15/08          
|  --------------------------------------------------------------| 
NONREPORTABLE        NON-COMMERCIAL      |   COMMERCIAL    |      TOTAL      |   POSITIONS  
----------------------------|-------------------|-----------------|-----------------    
Long  | Short  |Spreads |  Long  | Short  |  Long  | Short  |  Long  | Short  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
(CONTRACTS OF 5,000 BUSHELS)                         OPEN INTEREST:      535,557  
COMMITMENTS    
  
87,091   60,080  170,063  243,134  248,498  500,289  478,642   35,268   56,915  

How can this be? There can’t be a negative number of option positions open. The explanation is in the

NON-COMMERCIAL SPREADS category. Large speculators are spreading between futures and options.

If you look at Futures only, it looks like a straight long or short position, but when you include options, the spreads become apparent. I am not interested in the spread number, but I am interested in eliminating spreads from the net positions. This is accomplished by using the Futures + Options (or Index Trader) report.

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