Hedge funds are betting that the oil-price crash is close to ending.
Speculators boosted their net-long position in West Texas Intermediate crude by 14 percent in the week ended Dec. 2, the most in 20 months, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Short bets contracted by 15 percent as long wagers expanded 4 percent.
Oil’s collapse accelerated after the 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided Nov. 27 to maintain output levels, underscoring the price war in crude. Oil tumbled into a bear market in October and reached a five-year low last week as the U.S. shale boom added to a global glut at a time of weakening demand growth.
“A lot of people are betting that the selloff is overdone,” John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by phone Dec. 5. “We haven’t seen these levels in years. They represent extreme value to some folks.”
WTI slumped $7.21, or 9.7 percent, to $66.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the period covered by the CFTC report. Prices extended declines from the lowest close in more than five years, dropping $1.15 to $64.69 at 9:14 a.m. Brent oil slid as much as $2.30 to $66.77 in London, the lowest intraday price since Oct. 7, 2009.
The price floor is now at about $60 or even less, companies including Deutsche Bank AG, BNP Paribas SA and Petromatrix GmbH said at the end of last month.
OPEC, responsible for about 40 percent of the world’s oil supply, kept its collective output target at 30 million barrels a day. WTI plunged a combined 10 percent that day and the next.
“There is a case for the longer-term investor that sees a discount in current prices,” Harry Tchilinguirian, BNP Paribas SA’s London-based head of commodity markets strategy, said by phone Dec. 5. “If your investment horizon is indeed long term, oil prices will be reversed higher.”
Shares outstanding of the four biggest U.S. exchange-traded funds that follow oil prices, including the United States Oil Fund and ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil, increased to 86.9 million on Dec. 4, the most since January 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.