July 10, 2018 / 11:47 AM / in 8 months

COLUMN-Hedge funds target WTI, leaving other oil contracts becalmed: Kemp

(John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)

* Chartbook: tmsnrt.rs/2NFcNWQ

By John Kemp

LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - Hedge fund managers have continued to boost their bullish exposure to U.S. crude futures and options, following a longer-than-expected disruption of pipeline deliveries from Canada.

Position-building in U.S. crude, also known as WTI, accounted for almost all changes in the petroleum complex in the week to July 3.

Hedge funds and other money managers raised their net long position in the six most important petroleum futures and options contracts by 47 million barrels.

Portfolio managers raised net their long position in U.S. crude (+41 million barrels) with minor increases in Brent (+4 million), U.S. gasoline (+4 million) and U.S. heating oil (+2 million).

Net length in European gasoil was cut by 3 million barrels, according to an analysis of regulatory and exchange data (tmsnrt.rs/2NFcNWQ).

WTI position-building is being driven by the draw down in inventories around Cushing and disruption of pipeline deliveries to the U.S. Midwest as a result of the stoppage in production at Canada’s Syncrude plant.

But the rest of the petroleum complex, including the international benchmark Brent, has shown no significant changes in recent weeks.

Funds’ net long position in WTI has surged by 116 million barrels in the two most recent weeks, while net length in Brent has been unchanged.

Net length in WTI has closed the gap with Brent for the first time since June 2015, with managers holding a net long position of 457 million barrels in both benchmarks.

Portfolio managers hold the most lopsided position in WTI since June 2014, when Islamic State fighters were racing across northern Iraq and threatening the country’s oilfields.

Hedge fund long positions outnumber short positions in WTI by a ratio of almost 13:1, up from less than 6:1 two weeks ago.

But away from WTI, there were no significant position changes. The fund community is running a substantial net long position across the petroleum complex, though it has been trimmed by light profit-taking since mid-April.

Related columns:

- Hedge funds continue selling oil, especially fuels, Reuters, July 2

- Hedge funds on hold in run up to OPEC meeting, Reuters, June 25

- Hedge funds continue gently selling oil while waiting for OPEC and tariffs, Reuters, June 18

- Oil prices stall as hedge funds take profits, Reuters, June 12 (Editing by Edmund Blair)

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