The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate oil futures, has surged almost 20% over the past month. Buoyed by some bullish comments by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), traders have been flocking to oil futures contracts.
USO has been somewhat steady following a sharp reversal last month that forced a spate of short covering. A short position is a sale on a borrowed security. The investor needs to eventually return the borrowed stock by purchasing it back from the open market. If the price falls, the investor buys it back for less than he or she sold it for and pockets the profit. [Widening Contango Could Cut Into Popular Oil ETF’s Returns]
“Money managers’ net-long position in West Texas Intermediate rose by 14,821 contracts to 147,678 futures and options in the week ended Sept. 15, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. That’s the highest level since July 7. In contrast, traders curbed their bullish positions in European benchmark Brent by the most in a month,” reports Dan Murtaugh for Bloomberg.
Although professional traders are scurrying to oil futures contracts, some traders have recently departed USO with the ETF lighter by $304.3 million this month through Sept. 18.
“The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries assumes crude prices will rise to $80 by 2020 as output falls elsewhere. U.S. production could sink by the most in 27 years in 2016 as the price rout extends a slump in drilling. Speculators closed out short positions two days before the Federal Reserve decided not to raise key U.S. interest rates,” according to Bloomberg.