* Fund down 3 percent in October
* Hall maintains bullish outlook on oil, natural gas
By Barani Krishnan and Marina Lopes
NEW YORK, Nov 8 Prominent oil trader Andy Hall's
$4 billion hedge fund was down 5 percent in the first ten months
of this year, risking the largest loss in the fund's six-year
history roiled by a weak Brent crude market.
Westport, Connecticut-based Astenbeck Capital Management
lost just under 3 percent in October, its fifth monthly loss
this year, according to a letter dated Nov. 1 to investors and
seen by Reuters.
That compares with a 4-percent loss in September and an
almost 3 percent gain in August. If the fund is not able to
recoup the losses in the last two months of the year, it would
be only its second since its inception in 2008.
A spokesman for the fund declined to comment on the
This year has been a turbulent one for energy-focused hedge
funds, with the Brent crude price down 5 percent so far
this year and on track for its first annual loss since 2008 amid
concerns about oversupply.
Although Astenbeck is invested in other commodities such as
platinum, palladium and corn, returns at the oil-focused fund
have largely mirrored monthly gains and losses in benchmark
crude since it began operating in 2008.
The fund's performance is broadly inline with the average
energy fund on Chicago's Hedge Fund Research Index, which is
down 4.45 percent.
In the letter to investors sent this year, Hall, a veteran
oil trader, reaffirmed his belief that rising production costs
and low supply growth will boost oil prices in the long term.
He also still expects natural gas prices to recover as
demand growth should start to outpace supply.
Gas prices tumbled in October to the low end of this
year's trading range as mild weather weighed on sentiment, but
they are up 6 percent so far this year.
Facing greater volatility and falling prices, some commodity
hedge funds have struggled to repeat the big returns seen early
in the commodity bull run during the early and mid-2000s.
Clive Capital, one of the largest funds trading in oil
markets, closed down at the end of September, after losing money
in each of the past three calendar years.
Last year, Astenbeck returned 3.41 percent, although it lost
3.83 percent in 2011.