Calgary: Hedge funds boosted bets on rising US crude prices to the highest level in more than seven months, helping support oil’s first full week above $60 a barrel since May.

Their net-bullish wagers on West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 19 per cent in the week ended December 17, data released on Friday show. Optimism over a US-China trade truce and Opec cuts helped push futures to a three-month high, though the rally has fizzled somewhat.

“I expect to see more length in the market as a function of what looks to be the successful negotiation of Phase 1 of the US-China trade pact, as well as the Opec meeting with their pledge to reduce output,” said Andrew Lebow, senior partner at Commodity Research Group in New York.

The improved outlook for trade and OPEC’s pledge to deepen output cuts are helping US oil head for a rebound of more than 30 per cent this year, its best performance since 2016. That’s after a 25 per cent slump in 2018.

It also seems that America’s shale boom is slowing down and several forecasts for the country’s crude output next year have been lowered.

“US production estimates continue to fall,” said Rebecca Babin, senior equity trader at CIBC Private Wealth Management. “A likely return of the downside from last year was mitigated by Phase 1 of the China-U. S deal, and Opec staying on price stability theme instead of market share.”

Money managers’ WTI net-long position, or the difference between bullish and bearish bets, climbed to 272,218 futures and options, the highest level since April, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data. Long-only wagers jumped 13 per cent, while shorts declined 24 per cent.