Oil Bounces Back After Hedge Fund Selling Spree

Hedge funds have already left behind the attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure in mid-September and have been net sellers of petroleum futures in the past two weeks as gloomy outlooks on the global economy took center stage in the oil market.

Money managers sold the equivalent of 64 million barrels of WTI Crude another 17 million barrels of Brent Crude futures positions in the most recent reporting week to October 1, according to data from regulators and exchanges compiled by Reuters market analyst John Kemp.

The hedge funds’ overall net long position—the difference between bullish and bearish bets—of 532 million barrels in the six most important oil-linked futures contracts is now back essentially the same as it was in early September, before the September 14 attacks on critical Saudi oil facilities, which took 5.7 million bpd—or 5 percent of global supply—offline.

Despite the unprecedented attack, however, portfolio managers have started to fret over mounting signs of slowing economic and oil demand growth rather than on the possibility of another major disruption to global oil supply.

Oil prices are now lower than they were just before the attacks on critical Saudi oil facilities. Hedge funds and other money managers have winded down bullish bets on Brent and WTI over the past two weeks, reversing a build-up in the net long position that had accumulated in the two weeks prior to the attacks in Saudi Arabia.

In the week to October 1, the bullish bets on WTI and Brent combined dropped to their lowest in eight months, according to exchanges data compiled by Bloomberg. The end of the driving season in the U.S. is also eroding bullish sentiment about demand, according to Bloomberg.

“A week of negative macro data last week is unlikely to have helped sentiment, and in the current environment, it is clearly going to take a significant amount to shift sentiment- the attack on Saudi Arabia in mid-September clearly demonstrated this,” Warren Patterson, ING’s Head of Commodities Strategy and Senior Commodities Strategist Wenyu Yao, said on Monday.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com