Hedge funds and money managers cut bullish bets on U.S. crude for the fourth straight week due to ongoing concerns about rising output and the effectiveness of OPEC supply cuts.
The speculator group cut its combined futures and options position in New York and London by 9,710 contracts to 184,312 during the week to May 16, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.
That represents the smallest long position in crude futures since November.
U.S. oil futures on the NYMEX gained 6 percent in the five trading sessions ended May 16, boosted by expectations that the major oil producing nations will extend their cuts further, even into 2018.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with Russia and other non-OPEC members, agreed to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of 2017.
The countries plan to meet on May 25 and are widely expected to maintain output limits at least through the end of the year, and perhaps as long as March 2018. An OPEC panel is also considering deepening the cuts to help boost prices.
They will need to contend with rising United States production, which is taking market share away from OPEC. U.S. energy companies added oil rigs for a 18th consecutive week this week, Baker Hughes showed.
Separately, speculators reduced short positions in gasoline as the United States heads into the busy driving season. Short positions fell to a net 12,895 contracts, down by 8,070 contracts on the week.
(Reporting by David Gaffen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)