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U.S. Shale's Favorite Financial Trick Is Getting Less Attractive

  • Options skew tumbles, reflecting drop in U.S. producer hedging
  • Move could portend fall in production, SocGen analyst says
Rig hands thread together drilling pipe on a rig located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Washington Township, Pennsylvania.
Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Oil bulls, take heart! U.S. drillers have dramatically reduced their hedging activity, a move that could portend a break in the production gains that have upended global crude prices.

The relative cost of options protecting against a drop in West Texas Intermediate crude has fallen to its lowest since August, thanks to a big drop in producer hedging, Societe Generale SA said on Friday. The so-called put skew for contracts delivered a year from now -- weighing the difference in value between bullish and bearish options -- fell to just below 6 percentage points, after rising above 8 points in February.