(Updates with producers in third paragraph.)
March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Hedge funds and other money managers cut bullish bets on Brent crude by the most in more than 18 months, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.
Speculative bets that prices will rise, in futures and options combined, outnumbered short positions by 159,816 lots in the week ended Feb. 26,, the London-based exchange said today in its weekly Commitment of Traders report. The reduction of 30,855, or 16.2 percent, is the biggest in terms of the number of contracts since Aug. 9, 2011, and in percentage terms the steepest decline since October.
Bearish positions by producers, merchants, processors and users of Brent outnumbered bullish positions by 198,946, down 15 percent from a week earlier, for a third consecutive drop.
Swaps dealers were net-long 78,635 contracts, up 10.6 percent from a week earlier.
Brent fell 4.1 percent on the ICE exchange in the week to Feb. 26, settling that day at $112.71 a barrel. Brent traded at $110.46 as of 12:10 p.m. London time today.
Money managers’ net-long bets on gasoil declined for the first time in 10 weeks, by 10.2 percent to 105,532 contracts, the data show. Net-longs in gasoil had been at their highest since at least January 2011 in the previous week.
--Editors: Raj Rajendran, Bruce Stanley