Gold price: Hedge funds add 30% to bullish bets

The gold price ended Friday with a third week in a row of gains after bullish positions held by large investors soared again.

By the close of regular trade on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery – the most active contract – hit $1,323.60 an ounce, up $6.70 from Thursday's close.

There appears to be a definite shift in sentiment this year after 2013's dismal performance with the smart money only now catching up with gold's almost 10% rise this year.

Long positions – bets that the price will go up – held by so-called managed money increased by 8% to 140,840 lots in the week to February 18 according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released after the close of business on Friday.

At the same time short positions were cut by 10,603 to just under 50,000, which translates on a net basis hedge funds holding 31% more bullish positions: net longs of 90,942 lots or 9.1 million ounces.

Net longs jumped 17% in the week to February 11, CFTC data showed. Net longs fell to a paltry 26,700 lots in early December when shorts held by large investors peaked at more than 80,000 lots.

That was the highest number of short positions since 2007, back when gold changed hands for $700 an ounce.