Winter turns around energy fund of ex-Goldman trader Goldberg - sources

NEW YORK, March 5 Wed Mar 5, 2014 2:23pm EST

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NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - Former Goldman Sachs energy trader Jonathan Goldberg's hedge fund is up 7 percent on the year after the winter rally in U.S. oil and gas helped it recover from losses in the first four months after its launch last September, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Goldberg's $300 million BBL Commodities Value Fund in New York rebounded as futures price spreads it laid out in U.S. heating oil versus European gas oil and U.S. crude oil versus U.K. Brent turned profitable in January, the sources who are familiar with the fund's returns said.

It also made money from a long position in natural gas options, they said.

BBL had four straight months of losses, finishing 2013 down 6 percent.

But the fund rose 7 percent in January, edged down about 0.5 percent in February and has trended higher since March began and could be on track to a first quarter profit if energy markets continue to experience big moves, the sources said.

"BBL made money on a variety of energy themes this winter," said a source, familiar with the fund and speaking on conditions of anonymity as the information was confidential.

"Compared to the average energy fund, its diversified exposure to various, niche energy markets could help protect the downside and increase the upside," the source said.

BBL declined comment.

The worst winter in decades caused billions of dollars in damages to the U.S. economy, as snow storms paralyzed air and ground travel and killed more than a dozen people.

But it was a boon to some fund managers who piled into natural gas and oil futures for delivery by March in anticipation of a spike in heating demand.

Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research has an 8.5 percent gain for the average fund on its Macro-Commodity Energy Index in January, with February data still unavailable.

Goldberg, who traded oil products at Goldman Sachs for seven years before spending another three at Glencore building out its U.S. oil derivatives business, has a short-term view of the markets.

His strategy is exploit the relative value among different energy components, using prices, delivery dates and location as basis, according to sources.

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