Hedge funds and other money managers have cut their long positions on crude futures to the lowest level since November, according to the U.S. Commodities Trading Commission, for the week ended on June 20. At the same time short positions, which are bets that oil prices will fall further, have climbed to near record highs. The ratio of long positions to short positions has fallen to around 2-to-1 from a high of 12-to-1 in February.
This all suggests that we’re at something like a short-term bottom in the price of oil.
The drop in long positions means that fewer traders will look to sell if oil drops further. The climb in short positions means that more traders will need to buy to cover their short selling if oil looks like it’s moving up.
This shift in the futures market doesn’t guarantee a bottom–news of higher than expected supplies or greater than expected production could lead to more selling–but it does shift the pressures in the market from downward to upward–if all else is equal.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up 1.71% as of 11:45 a.m. New York time to $44.12 a barrel. The Brent international benchmark was ahead 1.66% to $46.59 a barrel.