Market Overview

USO Short Sellers Have Made $347M In Profits And Are Adding To Their Positions

USO Short Sellers Have Made $347M In Profits And Are Adding To Their Positions

In the past two days, WTI crude oil prices have stabilized after turning negative earlier in the week, and the United States Oil Fund LP (NYSE: USO) was up another 9.9% on Thursday.

Oil investors have gotten hammered so far in 2020 as a pricing war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, a sharp drop in demand due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and U.S. storage capacity approaching 100% have created a perfect storm in the oil space.

On Wednesday, S3 Partners analyst Ihor Dusaniwsky said short sellers have more than doubled their position in the USO fund so far this year, and the trade has been a huge winner.

From Jan. 1 to Feb. 27, USO shorts were up $61.6 million overall. Since that time, short sellers have tripled their exposure to the USO fund and profited an additional $286 million in the process.

USO Shorts Leaning In

Despite the big gains, USO short sellers have been adding to their positions in the past month, increasing the fund’s short position by 15 million shares to 75.8 million total, Dusaniwsky said.

That short position is now worth roughly $213 million.

“The cost to borrow USO shares has been increasing over the last few days, but there are still ample shares to borrow due to almost $6.5 billion worth of inflows into the ETN this year,” he said. 

The cost to borrow for USO short sellers has risen from 1% in early April to just 3.8% as of Wednesday.

Benzinga’s Take

Short sellers are betting that USO will suffer from the same pressures that pushed oil prices into negative territories this week when WTI June futures contracts expire just under a month from now. Given that a significant ramp in demand is unlikely in the near-term, U.S. producers will need to nearly completely shut off production to avoid more storage-related issues next month.

Do you agree with this take? Email with your thoughts.

Related Links:

Oil Stock Short Sellers Up $6.5B In 2020

'An Outlier Event': Experts React To Oil Prices Dropping Below $0


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