Crude oil traders and speculators continue to bet on the energy market’s demise, with hedge funds raising bearish wagers to a four-year high, pushing oil-related exchange traded funds to new lows.

After touching new all-time lows in early trading, the U.S. Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO) and PowerShares DB Oil Fund (NYSEArca: DBO) both pared earlier losses Monday. Nevertheless, USO and DBO have both plunged about 51% over the past year. [Positioning for an Oil ETF Rebound? Watch For Contango.]

WTI crude oil futures were hovering around $45.9 per barrel while Brent crude oil futures were at $48.8 per barrel.

The bears are taking over as money managers raised short positions in WTI crude ot the highest level since September 2010 in the week ended January 20, reports Mark Shenk for Bloomberg. Meanwhile, net-long positions dipped for the first time in three weeks, which suggests speculators are losing faith in a rebound,

“There’s been a rush to call a bottom,” John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, said in the article. “The fundamentals are still stacked against a rebound.”

Weighing on the oil outlook, Saudi Arabia’s new King, Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, ascended the throne after King Abdullah passed last week and stated that he will maintain the production policy of his predecessor.

“I don’t see any major catalyst from either the supply or demand side that will send prices higher this year,” Stewart Glickman, an equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ, said in the article. “It looks like $50 crude is the new reality that we’ll have to get used to.”

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