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Oil Short-Sellers Retreat But Demand Concerns Continue to Reign

Carlos Caminada and Sheela Tobben
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Oil Short-Sellers Retreat But Demand Concerns Continue to Reign

(Bloomberg) -- Hedge funds unwound bets against American crude for the first time in six weeks, just before the market took heart from signs of strength in the U.S. and Chinese economies.

The move was timid, though, in the face of a recent buildup of bearish positions. Short wagers on West Texas Intermediate crude fell 11% in in the week ended Oct. 29, but remain almost triple what they were in mid-September, data released Friday show.

With American refineries entering their maintenance season and the outlook for global growth uncertain, there isn’t much reason to be bullish from a demand point of view. As for supply, shale drillers continue to pump crude at a record pace.

A positive jobs report in the U.S. and a rise in Chinese manufacturing orders helped futures jump 3.7% on Friday, but they were down almost 1% for the week. Prices have been stuck between $52 and $57 a barrel since September.

“There’s not a lot of news to break prices out of that range,” said Rob Haworth, who helps oversee $151 billion at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Seattle. “Demand expectations are coming down really quickly.”

Money managers’ WTI net-long position, or the difference between bullish and bearish bets, rose 12% to 104,675 futures and options, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data. That’s still down from more than 200,000 six weeks earlier. Long-only bets fell 1.4%

To contact the reporters on this story: Carlos Caminada in Calgary at ccaminada1@bloomberg.net;Sheela Tobben in New York at vtobben@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net, ;David Marino at dmarino4@bloomberg.net, Reg Gale

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