Oil bulls are charging into the new year with unprecedented vigour, and the credit goes to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec). The signs that the group is winning its tug of war with shale are compelling, and money managers have taken note: their combined bets on rising prices for West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude reached record levels in December. "At least through the first half of 2018, they’ll stay pretty bullish," says Ashley Petersen, lead oil-market strategist at Stratas Advisors in New York. "June will be a real turning point because that’s when we’ll hear about unwinding the deal, and if Opec doesn’t handle it delicately, then there will be concern that the market will be flooded with oil again." During the last week of 2017 futures trading rose above $60 a barrel in New York and $67 in London for the first time since mid-2015, after the two most important oil benchmarks surged more than 40% from their doldrums in June. The rally followed a w...

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