Hedge Funds Cut ICE Brent Crude Net-Longs to Lowest in 2013

Hedge funds and other money managers cut bullish bets on Brent crude for the fourth week to the lowest this year, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.

Speculative bets that prices will rise, in futures and options combined, outnumbered long positions by 131,228 lots in the week to March 5, the London-based exchange said today in its weekly Commitment of Traders report. That’s down 18 percent, or 28,588 contracts, from the previous week and is the lowest since Dec. 25.

Brent prices declined 1 percent to $111.61 a barrel in the week to March 5 after dropping in the second-half of February. Futures for April delivery were down 0.7 percent to $110.13 a barrel as of 12:34 p.m. London time on the ICE exchange.

“For as long as the exodus on the part of money managers continues, prices cannot be expected to recover,” Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said in a note today.

Bearish positions by producers, merchants, processors and users of Brent outnumbered bullish positions by 200,246, up from 198,946 the previous week.

Swaps dealers were net-long 101,970 lots, up 30 percent from a week earlier.

Money managers’ net-long bets on gasoil dropped for the second week by 24 percent to 80,036 contracts, the data show. Net-long positions in gasoil surged to the highest in more than two years on Feb. 19.

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