Hedge Funds Reduced Their Bullish Bets on Crude Oil

Goldman Sachs thinks US shale production will rebound quickly in 2017 back to the 2015 levels.
Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs thinks US shale production will rebound quickly in 2017 back to the 2015 levels. Goldman Sachs

"This unwinding of position is both a cause and reflection of the big fall in crude oil prices when the cracks in the OPEC / non-OPEC deal emerged". If OPEC and non-OPEC investors start to talk seriously about extending the plan to cut output then we could see the start of a short-covering rally.

Baker said this would "support the case for a shift from contango to backwardation in the crude markets during the second-half 2017".

Under broader pressure from the so-called Brexit, crude oil prices moved lower early Monday on a hangover from higher US exploration and production work.

United States oil prices dipped below US$50 (RM221) a barrel for the first time in 2017 this month as near-record American stockpiles and rising output weighed on the production reductions by Opec and its allies. Oil demand will also continue to rise this year and in the next few years, he said.

An upgrade in non-Opec supply prospects led analysts at JP Morgan to cut their 2017 and 2018 price forecasts to $55.75 and $55.50 for Brent and to $53.75 and $53.50 for WTI, respectively.

The chart above shows how oil prices have fared since OPEC announced its supply cut past year until date.

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Brent for May settlement slipped 14 cents to US$51.62 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Though some of the OPEC members have indicated their willingness to prolong the cuts, comments by Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation, world's largest crude producers and effectively leaders of the OPEC and non-OPEC blocs in the production restraint deals, carry far more weight.

Opec will meet 25 May in Vienna, Austria, to decide whether to extend its 1.2m bpd production cut.

Falih notes that OPEC is committed to cutting supply as much as necessary until there's an uptrend in oil prices. After forecasting production declines for 2017, USA federal data instead show steady gains and production so far in March has been at around 9 million barrels per day.

However, U.S. shale producers can't continue to increase their output indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the deal between Opec and non-Opec producers, which was agreed late past year and aimed to curb production, appears to be having little effect on the glut at the moment, with three of the last four weeks showing substantial inventory increases.

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