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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Traders Don’t See OPEC+ Substantially Lifting Oil Prices

  • Portfolio managers continued to be bearish on crude oil prices ahead of the now-delayed OPEC+ meeting.
  • In the week to November 21, bullish bets were slashed - with net-long positions being cut by over 19,000 positions to the lowest since June.
  • ING: If the current cuts are only extended, they could erase most of the surplus on the market expected early next year.

Portfolio managers continued to be bearish on crude oil prices ahead of the now-delayed OPEC+ meeting, further selling off Brent and WTI futures and options and halving the net bullish bet on oil in two months. 

The bearish positioning in crude oil in the past eight weeks suggests that hedge funds and other money managers are skeptical about OPEC+ managing to offset non-OPEC+ supply rising faster than expected, as well as concerns about economic growth. Some of the moves down in oil were also triggered by technical selling, while some hedge funds have stayed on the sidelines waiting for the next decision of the OPEC+ group.   

In the week to November 21, bullish bets were slashed - with net-long positions being cut by over 19,000 positions to the lowest since June, according to data from the ICE Futures Europe exchange and the CFTC.

The latest Commitment of Traders (COT) report was released on Monday, delayed due to Thanksgiving last week. 

“Unsurprisingly, given the weakness seen in the market, speculators continued to reduce their net long in ICE Brent over the last reporting week,” ING strategists Warren Patterson and Ewa Manthey said on Tuesday. 

The net long position – the difference between bullish and bearish bets – in Brent Crude futures slumped by 15,880 lots to 155,105 lots as of November 21—the smallest net-long position since early October. Most of the sell-off was due to the liquidation of long positions.  Related: EU/US Yields Tumble Amid Slump In Industrial Confidence

In NYMEX WTI Crude, portfolio managers cut their net long by 19,751 lots over the last reporting week to 104,545 lots. This was the smallest bullish position since July, ING’s analysts noted.  

“While longs are liquidating as sentiment in the market sours, there is also likely an element of speculators taking risk off the table ahead of the OPEC+ meeting,” they said.  

Amid record-high U.S. crude oil production, money managers have been selling WTI futures for eight consecutive weeks, reducing their position by the equivalent of 216 million barrels since the end of September, according to data compiled by Reuters market analyst John Kemp

The combined net long in WTI and Brent has seen eight weeks of selling apart from a geopolitics-driven bid higher in the week of October 17, after the Hamas attack on Israel, Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank, said, commenting on the latest report on traders’ positioning.

During those eight weeks, the combined net long in WTI and Brent has more than halved to 260,000 lots, driven by 188,000 lots of long liquidation and 112,000 lots of fresh short selling, Hansen added.  

Traders are now expecting the next move from OPEC+, which is set to hold a virtual meeting on Thursday, November 30, if the group doesn’t delay it again, as some reports suggested on Tuesday. 

A rollover of the current cuts is the likely scenario, according to OPEC+ sources who have spoken to Reuters. The alliance is said to be continuing talks with African producers about their quotas, but no agreement has been reached as of late Tuesday. 

If the current cuts are only extended, they could erase most of the surplus on the market expected early next year, ING’s analysts said. 


“However, if OPEC+ want to provide more solid support to the market and ensure that we do not see stocks building early next year, they will need to agree on deeper and broader cuts,” they added. 

“The Saudis and OPEC+ have made a habit of surprising markets in recent years when it comes to their meetings. However, with aggressive cuts already in place, it does leave one wondering the degree to which the group could surprise the market with deeper-than-expected cuts.” 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Dewey on November 30 2023 said:
    Oil prices should rise up Within the next six months or sooner. These strategic oil reserve in the United States, is 50 year low, due to the incompetence these decisions made by current administration of the United States. this being said $120 for WTC should be taken into account. this should be sustainable throughout the summer months where demand will be the highest. Employment in the gas and oil fields will be good for this country, along with any enterprises associated with it. Americans will be accustom to paying $4 dollars for gas, as had been in the past. One must keep in mind that price of gas goes up. Interest rates should come down along with the deficit of the United States. Lower interest rates should equal lower debt for the United States as long as Congress stop spending money that they don’t have.

  • William Oil Investor on November 30 2023 said:
    More like some traders don&#039;t want to see oil move up for a variety of reasons, so they actively work to depress the price as they have throughout 2023. Unless they need to it to move to make up for green losses else where... If you can&#039;t properly maintain the economy and fiscal responsibility, just manipulate it. I rather see cheap gas, but I know and understand how we got here, and those fundamentals have not changed, if anything, have gotten much worse. Tick tick tick....

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