Funds book profits after sharp fall in oil prices: Kemp

The hedge fund community remains bullish overall

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S., November 22, 2019.

Image used for illustrative purpose. The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S., November 22, 2019.

REUTERS/Angus Mordant

(John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)

LONDON- Hedge funds were small buyers of petroleum last week as managers repurchased some short positions after heavy selling and price falls the previous week.

Money managers purchased the equivalent of 10 million barrels in the six most important futures and options contracts in the week to March 30.

Previous bearish short positions were trimmed by 24 million barrels, while bullish longs were also cut by 14 million barrels, exchange and regulatory data shows.

Portfolio managers were small buyers of Brent (+7 million barrels), NYMEX and ICE WTI (+4 million) and European gasoil (+4 million) but sold U.S. gasoline (-1 million) and U.S. diesel (-3 million).

Most changes seem to have been profit-taking, or loss-reducing, coming after heavy sales of 88 million barrels the previous week, the fastest rate of selling since successful COVID-19 vaccine trials were announced in November.

The hedge fund community remains bullish overall, with long positions outnumbering shorts by a ratio of more than 5.2:1, in the 72nd percentile for all weeks since 2013 (https://tmsnrt.rs/39KaIFw).

However, managers have become more cautious since the middle of February as infections have surged in Europe, India and some emerging markets, while vaccine rollouts have proved slower than anticipated.

International passenger aviation and oil consumption is expected to increase more slowly in the second and third quarters of 2021, while the United States and OPEC+ are set to boost output.

John Kemp

(Editing by David Goodman) ((john.kemp@thomsonreuters.com))