July 15, 2019 / 1:12 PM / 2 months ago

Column: Hedge funds stick to the sidelines in oil

LONDON (Reuters) - Hedge funds and other money managers left their petroleum positions essentially unchanged last week as the poor outlook for consumption offset production concerns stemming from tensions in the Middle East.

An oil pump is seen at sunset outside Scheibenhard, near Strasbourg, France, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

The net long position in petroleum futures and options remained at 563 million barrels in the week to July 9, according to records published by regulators and exchanges.

Portfolio managers made only major changes to their net position in Brent (-4 million barrels), NYMEX and ICE WTI (-5 million), U.S. gasoline (+2 million), U.S. heating oil (+3 million) and European gasoil (+4 million).

Summer holidays across much of North America and Europe generally produce lighter trading volumes and smaller position changes during July and August.

That is likely to account for the very small adjustments after the short-covering rally that had lifted hedge funds’ total petroleum positions by 41 million barrels over the previous two weeks had ran out of steam.

(Chartbook: tmsnrt.rs/2NSJXGv)

Positions and prices are delicately poised between worries over the global economic slowdown and concerns about future supply disruptions stemming from conflict around the Gulf and shortages of middle distillates caused by the introduction of new marine fuel regulations from the start of 2020.

John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.

Related columns:

- Freight volumes shrink as world economy stalls (Reuters, July 12)

- Hedge funds sell crude as economy fears trump OPEC cuts (Reuters, July 8)

- Oil prices get lift from short-covering (Reuters, July 1)

Editing by David Goodman

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