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Crude prices rise as investors bet big on oil strength

TOKYO: Crude futures rose for a second day on Tuesday, with data showing hedge funds are betting big across oil markets following OPEC production cuts agreed last year.U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 31 cents, or 0.6 percent, at US$53.71 a barrel at 0218 GMT , after rising about 0.5 percent in a shortened session on Monday due to a U.S. national holiday.Brent futures gained 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, to US$56.24 a barrel, after ending the previous session up 0.7 percent.Investors now hold more crude futures and options than at any time on record, after members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries committed last year to cut production.Speculators raised their bets on a rally in Brent oil prices to a record last week, data from the InterContinental Exchange showed on Monday, mirroring the optimism in the U.S. crude market.Data on Friday showed net long U.S. crude futures and options positions in the week to Feb. 14 were at a record.”As bullish positioning by hedge funds continues to push on in unchartered territory, the risk of a swift, sharp snapback in prices continues to build,” ClipperData analyst Matt Smith said in an…

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