April 11, 2016 / 6:25 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-Oil bull Hall's commodities fund up for March, trails some peers

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - Astenbeck Capital Management LLC, the hedge fund led by famed oil bull Andy Hall, saw its main commodities fund rise in March for the first time in five months but fail to match a jump in crude prices and the performance of some peers.

Astenbeck’s Commodities Fund II was up 6.9 percent last month, putting it ahead 0.94 percent year-to-date, according to a letter viewed by Reuters.

The gains were the first posted by the fund since October, according to the letter to investors. Astenbeck has $2.1 billion under management, including about $1.3 billion in the fund, according to an executive summary. That was up from a total of $1.9 billion in February, with $1.2 billion in the fund that month.

The fund’s gains in March fell short of those seen in the crude markets, where global benchmark Brent rose nearly 15 percent and U.S. crude climbed about 11 percent.

Certain commodity funds, including Andurand Capital, have outperformed Astenbeck year-to-date Andurand was up 5.8 percent for the year as of March 31, boosted by long crude positions, according to industry sources. The $550 million BBL Commodities Value Fund gained 9 percent through March 31, according to an investor quarterly letter seen by Reuters.

Still, Hall embraced the idea that the market has turned in favor of the bulls.

“The market is forward looking, and it is becoming increasingly evident that supply and demand are coming into balance - notwithstanding the still extremely downbeat forecasts being published by agencies like the EIA and IEA,” Hall said in the letter.

The letter questioned the validity of the International Energy Agency’s data, calling it a “cheerleader for the bears.”

Hall maintained in the letter that observed commercial inventories were unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2015, in contrast with the IEA’s March oil market report, which suggested they should have built by 2 million barrels per day.

Preliminary data from Astenbeck for the first quarter of 2016 suggests that inventories rose by 0.7 million barrels per day, about 1.3 million barrels per day less than the build implied by the latest IEA data, he said.

As a result, he dismissed the widely held view that oil prices will struggle to rise above $45 a barrel and will not rebalance before 2017. He suggested that a massive retrenchment and cancellation of projects will uphold a bullish view.

Astenbeck did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter. (Reporting by Barani Krishnan; Writing by Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Paul Simao)

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