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New York — A rallying crude complex spurred speculative traders to massively increase net length in NYMEX crude futures over the most recent reporting week, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed Friday.

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While money managers added net length by cutting 20,594 shorts, the other reportables group added 23,296 longs as well as cutting 23,418 shorts. This left them net long 146,943 crude contracts, up 46,714 contracts on the week.

Prompt crude futures rose $3.65 to $48.31/b over the reporting week.

Money managers, meanwhile, increased their net long position 30,095 contracts to 221,826 contracts.

Article Continues below...

Swap dealers and producer/merchants were active as well, likely taking much of the offsetting positions. Swap dealers net short position increased drastically, up 48,049 contracts to 56,136 contracts. Producer/merchants net short increased 11,759 contracts to 295,293 contracts.

While total open interest in NYMEX crude futures Thursday fell to 1.632 million contracts -- lowest since November and down sharply from mid-February -- producer/merchant short positions have soared.

This suggests that while easing volatility -- which peaked in mid-February as prompt crude futures tumbled to around $26/b -- may have pushed some opportunistic traders to the sidelines, it has not kept hedgers -- largely the producers accounted for in the producer/merchant category -- from locking in a floor to prices in lock step with the rally in futures.

This jump in short positions has driven total holdings of all crude contracts held by producer/merchants to levels not seen since 2013. At the same time, money managers total holdings -- which fell to just 366,316 over the most recent reporting week -- are down more than 112,000 contracts from mid-February.

--James Bambino, james.bambino@spglobal.com
--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com