Crude futures for second day as investors bet big oil strength
TOKYO: Crude futures rose for a second day on Tuesday, with data showing hedge funds are betting big across oil markets following OPEC production cuts agreed last year.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 was up 31 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $53.71 a barrel at 0218 GMT (9:18 p.m. on Monday), after rising about 0.5 percent in a shortened session on Monday due to a U.S. national holiday.
Brent futures LCOc1 gained 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $56.24 a barrel, after ending the previous session up 0.7 percent.
Investors now hold more crude futures and options than at any time on record, after members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) committed last year to cut production.
Speculators raised their bets on a rally in Brent oil prices to a record last week, data from the InterContinental Exchange showed on Monday, mirroring the optimism in the U.S. crude market. [O/ICE]
Data on Friday showed net long U.S. crude futures and options positions in the week to Feb. 14 were at a record.[CFTC/]
ClipperData analyst Matt Smith said in an overnight note, “As bullish positioning by hedge funds continues to push on in unchartered territory, the risk of a swift, sharp snapback in prices continues to build.”
He added, “Especially given the bearish backdrop of record crude and gasoline inventories amid lower fuel demand year-on-year.”
The Energy Information Administration said that U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories soared to record highs last week as refineries cut output and gasoline demand softened.
The oil market will have to wait until Thursday, a day later than normal, for the release of this week’s official data, due to the holiday on Monday.