The coronavirus pandemic is pummeling fuel demand and, in return, oil market traders are avoiding near-term contracts and looking to futures markets instead.
Currently, the highest open interest is for the December delivery of both overseas-benchmark Brent and West Texas Intermediate barrels. It is unusual for betting to center on barrels scheduled for delivery so far into the future.
The popularity of the December contracts also indicates optimism that prices will rebound later this year as shelter-in-place orders are eased.
Energy traders have done particularly well this year betting on near-term oil prices to fall while wagering on rising prices later in the year. So-called carry trades involving West Texas Intermediate this year have earned better than 80% on annualized basis, according to Bank of America Securities analysts.