“All-In” Hedge-Funds Turn Cautious Ahead Of OPEC As Oil Prices Stumble

With WTI back below the Maginot Line of $50, speculative investors are growing increasingly anxious about their record extreme bullish positioning across the energy complex.

As Reuters’ John Kemp reports, hedge fund bullishness towards crude oil and refined products including gasoline and diesel appears to have peaked for now, according to an analysis of regulatory and exchange records.

Speculative traders’ positioning across crude and especially refined fuels had looked increasingly lopsided in recent weeks as fund managers turned from very bearish in June to super-bullish by the end of September.

But as Kemp notes, hedge funds cut their combined net long position in the three major crude oil futures and options contracts linked to Brent and WTI by 1 million barrels to 793 million.

And, as Kemp concludes ominously, both the accumulation and liquidation of hedge fund positions and the rise and fall in prices show a strong cyclical element in the short run.

With record or near-record net long positions in gasoline, heating oil and gasoil, and a strong bullish bias in crude positions, the balance of risks remains tilted towards the downside.

See Kemp’s full chartbook here…

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Op Ed A Roadmap For How the Blockchain Can Open Up Foreign Property Investment

For most individuals, investing in foreign property seems out of reach. The barriers, however, have far less to do with ones income and more to do with issues around information, namely quality and verifiability. It is not just the cost of property …

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Chinas ICO Ban Puts GigaWatt In Unique Territory

China has long been a dominant player on the global Bitcoin map. By 2016 over 90 of Bitcoins global trading volume took place there. Moreover, mining operations were in abundance due to Chinas cheap electricity. It is no coincidence that Bitmain, th…

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Interview Cryptographer Silvio Micali on Bitcoin, Ethereum and Proof of Stake

Silvio Micali is an MIT professor and Turing Awardwinning cryptographer known for his work in technologies that form the bedrock of blockchains today public-key cryptosystems, digital signatures, pseudorandomness and multiparty computations. He is a…

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Wildfires Engulf Napa, Sonoma And 6 Other California Counties; More Than 20,000 Forced To Flee

Wine country is burning.

Thousands of residents of Napa Valley, Sonoma and six other counties have been forced from their homes – and thousands more are preparing to flee – as 14 wildfires tear through Northern California, resisting fire fighters’ efforts to contain them.

California’s fire chief says at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed – and officials said that estimate was probably conservative. While no deaths have been confirmed, fire officials say numerous residents have been injured and a number of people are also missing. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott say an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Sonoma, Napa and Yuba counties, revealing that FEMA had approved emergency grants to help the state combat the fires. More than 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate, state officials said.

#BREAKING: Gov. Jerry Brown announces State of Emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba Counties. due to fires pic.twitter.com/Yvd75jt4IZ

— KPIX 5 (@CBSSF) October 9, 2017

As the LA Times reported, fire-friendly weather conditions converged prior to the outbreak of fires, which originated primarily in Sonoma and Napa.

The Santa Ana winds – strong, extremely dry down-slope winds that occur mainly in the fall and originate inland in desert regions – were one factor in helping the fires spread. Warm temperatures also create the dry conditions that have helped the blazes spread like…well…wildfire.

“This is really serious, it’s moving fast. The heat, the lack of humidity and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse,” the governor said at a morning press conference. “It’s not under control by any means. But we’re on it in the best way we know how.”

In Santa Rosa, the capital of Sonoma county, whole neighborhoods have been evacuated and 200 patients have been moved from area hospitals, the Associated Press reported.

Smoke plumes from the fires showed up on the NWS radar…

Smoke plume from #AtlasFire showing up on radar. #cawx #cafire pic.twitter.com/QWhsv2RAGg

— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 9, 2017

…and were also detected by satellite imaging…

Striking satellite images show smoke, heat from California wildfires https://t.co/w824rGAeRk pic.twitter.com/BgQBmRk7MT < www.lividu…

— #SeenByLivi (@Lividul) October 9, 2017

Video taken by journalists shows farms, homes and vineyards engulfed in flames.

Wildfires roaring through California’s wine country are like an “inferno … you’ve never seen before.” #napafire pic.twitter.com/9KOKXHAVXP

— Vinotinto News (@DeporteEnLaRed) October 9, 2017

Smoke wafted down to the Bay Area, but the Marin County Fire Department confirmed that there were no fires in that part of the state.

Further south in Anaheim Hills, a 25-acre brush fire broke out Monday, forcing some residents to evacuate, NBC reported.

Firefighters said they were concerned about embers drifting on strong winds into nearby neighborhoods. Thick smoke billowed over the freeways and the communities of Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills.

October is historically one of the most dangerous months of the year when it comes to wildfires in California. Four of the state’s five most-destructive fire occurred in October, including the 1991 Oakland Hill firestorms that resulted in 25 fatalities and burned 2,900 buildings.

The Lake and Mendocino County Sheriffs ordered evacuations. The sheriff in Butte County said there were two fires in the area and ordered mandatory evacuations in several neighborhoods.

Belia Ramos, the chairwoman of the Napa County board of supervisors, said the county was trying to contain three main fires, one of which is threatening more than 10,00 acres in Northern Napa County, another that is threatening between 8,000 to 12,000 acres, and a third that has affected some 2,00 acres.

The fires were moving swiftly and in unpredictable paths through densely populated areas.

California struggled with wildfires during the summer, including a blaze late last month that forced 1,000 people in Southern California to evacuate.

Both AT&T and Verizon confirmed that their customers may be currently experiencing outages.

“A power and connectivity issue is causing a service interruption in parts of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” Verizon Wireless Pacific market public relations manager Heidi Flato said.

 

“Our engineers are aware of this issue and are working with our vendor partners to resolve this issue quickly.”

PG&E is also reporting power outages, mostly in the Sonoma area, due to the fire, according to SFGate.
 

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Bitcoin Has Caught the Attention of Tanzania’s Central Bank

Bitcoin Has Caught the Attention of Tanzania’s Central BankBitcoin is growing popular throughout a few regions within the giant continent of Africa. One of these areas seeing bitcoin growth is the United Republic of Tanzania. Due to the rise in interest towards bitcoin from Tanzanian citizens the Bank of Tanzania governor, Benno Ndulu, expressed some concerns about the decentralized currency this week. Also […]

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Macquarie: “Investors Are Mentally Exhausted Because They Understand There Is Nothing Normal In This Market”

In a note released this morning by Macquarie’s Viktor Shvetz, the bank’s stunned head of global equity strategy looks at what has become a “world without risk” and makes several observations, the key of which is absolutely spot on: “Investors are proba…

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