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Bullish Oil Bets Gain on Signs OPEC Cuts to Outdo U.S. Boom

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OPEC is finally making some headway in its race against the tide of surging U.S. supplies, and speculators are giving the group greater credence.

Hedge funds boosted bets on higher West Texas Intermediate crude prices a second week as futures topped $53 a barrel for the first time in a month, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. While more OPEC members are seen ready to extend output cuts, U.S. crude stockpiles dropped from a record. Fuel supplies are shrinking week after week at a time refineries are stepping up their crude processing ahead of the summer driving season.

“There’s renewed faith that OPEC and non-OPEC will be able to get global inventories lower,” John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by telephone. “We’re also looking forward to the ramp-up of refineries before the summer driving season, which will also help lower crude inventories.”

There are many indicators pointing to a more balanced market, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said during an event at Columbia University in New York April 14.

World stockpiles should soon start to decline, the International Energy Agency said in a monthly report on April 13. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in a report a day earlier that inventories shrank in developed nations during the first quarter, while forecasting that rivals in the U.S. shale industry will boost output.

Money managers’ WTI net-long position, or the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a drop, climbed 16 percent in the week ended April 11, according to the CFTC. WTI rose 4.6 percent to $53.40 a barrel in the report week, and slipped to $52.65 on Monday.

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Written by Mark Shenk

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