LONDON, July 21 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
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
(Reporting by David Sheppard; Editing by David Goodman)