Net speculative positions were up on both sides of the Atlantic. The CFTC had reported US non-commercial net longs in futures and options (F&O) in WTI sharply up (+62.5%) WoW, but from a very low base, to close at 8,955 positions in the week to 30 November. While for the week to 27 November, non-commercial net longs in F&O on the ICE in Brent were up 2,455 positions (+2.5%) to 101,022 positions. Both Brent and WTI were flat WoW to the respective reporting dates, Brent at USD 109.87/bbl and WTI at USD 87.92/bbl.
Managed Money net positions in WTI, generally regarded to be the most directionally driven speculative category, gained 6,248 positions (5.69%) WoW though this was more than offset by a steep, 45.7% WoW drop (-53,550 positions) in net longs in the catch-all ‘Other Reportables’ category. However, a sharp cut in Swap Dealers short positions, whose movements are generally associated with the provision of liquidity rather than directional bets, to 170,770 positions, down 22.9% or 50,747 positions WoW, helped to ensure that net speculative longs in WTI gained WoW. We would not interpret this data set as providing evidence of strong speculative money bullishness on crude prices.
On the ICE, Managed Money net positions on Brent grew 11.3% to 108,112 positions, the highest in six weeks. However, Swap Dealer net longs were cut 8,159 positions (-19.2%) WoW and the net shorts in the ‘Other Reportables’ category marginally increased, resulting in a more muted 2.5% rise in net speculative longs in Brent.
Meanwhile, December is looking like a busy month as far as the oil markets are concerned. Towards the end of the week, we expect the US to renew, or allow to expire, the ‘significant reduction’ waivers on Iranian oil import sanctions it had issued to India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan. While in the following week, the major forecasters, the EIA, OPEC and IEA, publish their monthly reports on oil markets. OPEC is also holding its ordinary meeting on 12 December and the IAEA is to hold meetings with Iranian nuclear officials the following day. Finally, the ‘significant reduction’ waiver which the US had granted China, and Singapore, is expected to expire on 25 December.