Hedge funds raise Brent oil bets to highest since October

LONDON Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:33am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Hedge funds and other large speculators last week raised their bets on a rise in Brent crude oil prices to the highest level since October, exchange data showed, highlighting the effect of Ukraine tensions on sentiment.

Money managers increased their crude net long positions by 6,864 contracts to 146,785 in the week to March 4, the IntercontinentalExchange said.

They have lifted long positions by 74 percent since February 4, when they reached their lowest level since November.

Net longs represent the difference between bets on higher and lower prices and can be a significant indicator of market sentiment.

Brent fell below $108 a barrel on Monday, hit by disappointing Chinese data, but tensions in Ukraine and Libya prevented steeper declines.

On March 3, the contracts spiked to a five-month high over $112 as Russian military intervention in the Crimean peninsula rattled global markets, but they fell over the ensuing days as the risk of war appeared to fade.

Speculators cut their net long positions in gasoil by 4,600 contracts to 74,337 in the week to March 4.

(Reporting by Lin Noueihed; editing by Jane Baird)

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