Hedge Funds Boost Brent Crude Net-Longs From Three-Month Low

Hedge funds and other money managers raised bullish bets on Brent crude from their lowest level in three months, data from ICE Futures Europe show.

Speculative bets that prices will rise, in futures and options combined, outnumbered short positions by 126,414 lots in the week ended March 19, the London-based exchange said today in its weekly Commitment of Traders report. The increase of 6,982 contracts, or 5.9 percent, is the first in six weeks. Last week net-longs fell to their lowest since Dec. 18.

Bearish positions by producers, merchants, processors and users of Brent outnumbered bullish positions by 210,393, up from 203,802 last week, in a third consecutive increase.

Swaps dealers were net-long 119,377 lots, up 8 percent from a week earlier. It was a fifth straight increase and brings net-longs in this category to their highest level since June 2011.

Brent crude declined 2 percent to $107.45 a barrel on March 19 on the ICE exchange, and traded for $108.35 as of 12:02 p.m. London time.

Money managers’ net-long bets on gasoil dropped for the fourth week to 58,800 contracts, the data show. That’s the lowest since Jan. 8.

ICE publishes, usually each Monday, aggregate numbers for long and short positions for speculators such as hedge funds and institutional investors, as well as commercial companies that buy or sell futures to protect against price moves. Analysts and investors follow changes in speculators’ positions because such transactions can reflect an expectation of a change in prices.

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