October 5, 2018 / 8:28 PM / in 2 months

Speculators cut bullish bets on U.S. crude to near one-year low: CFTC

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hedge funds cut their bullish wagers on U.S. crude in the latest week to the lowest level in nearly a year, data showed on Friday, as U.S. inventories rise and the market grapples with uncertainty ahead of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The speculator group cut its combined futures and options position in New York and London by 13,459 contracts to 333,109 in the week to Oct. 2, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said.

Money managers cut gross long positions in NYMEX U.S. crude to the lowest level in a year.

Brent crude speculators cut net long positions by 14,398 contracts to 481,945 in the period, from a more than four-month high, data from Intercontinental Exchange showed.

In the United States, refinery maintenance has pushed crude oil inventories higher, raising concerns about oversupply as domestic production has surged to a record 11 million bpd.

Prices during the period skyrocketed to four-year highs, with market participants attributing much of the gains to momentum-driven technical buying.

The deadline for the U.S. re-imposing sanctions on Iran is Nov. 4. The extent of impact on global supplies remains unclear. Estimates of Iranian crude exports that will be affected range from 500,000 to 2 million barrels per day (bpd).

Washington wants governments and companies around the world to stop buying Iranian oil to put pressure on Tehran to renegotiate a nuclear deal.

However, Iran has insisted that its top buyers will keep up purchases of the country’s crude.

India will buy 9 million barrels of Iranian oil in November, two industry sources said on Friday, indicating that the world’s third-biggest oil importer is to continue purchasing crude from the Islamic republic.

Meanwhile, natural gas speculators in four major NYMEX, ICE markets raised net long positions by 72,441 contracts to 233,040.

In refined products, money managers raised their bullish wagers on gasoline to 96,786 lots during the period, the highest in nearly two months.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Tom Brown and Phil Berlowitz

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