LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - Hedge funds and other large speculators slashed their bets on higher Brent crude oil prices by almost 25 percent in the week to July 15, ICE said on Monday, as prices collapsed to their lowest in three months.
The IntercontinentalExchange Inc. said money managers reduced their net long futures and options positions in Brent to 151,981 from 201,568 as prices fell to a three-month low of $104.39, down from more than $115 a barrel in mid-June.
The move was mirrored in the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) U.S crude oil contract, where big speculators closed out nearly $6 billion worth of bullish bets last week, confirming the biggest four-week fund exodus on record.
Oil future prices had rallied in June as funds piled into the market on expectations that violence in Iraq could cut supplies from OPEC's second-largest producer.
But weak demand in physical markets triggered a rapid 10 percent correction in Brent after no serious oil disruptions emerged. (Reporting by David Sheppard; Editing by David Goodman)