Oil's Rarely Had More Money on the Line as Trump Decides on Iran

(Bloomberg) -- With oil traders waiting on tenterhooks for President Trump’s verdict on Iranian sanctions, what’s at stake has rarely been greater.

On Monday, the nominal value of all Brent crude contracts held climbed to $199 billion, the highest level on record. In the same session, West Texas Intermediate crude holdings rose to the largest ever and were valued at $191 billion, the most since 2013. It comes at a time when net long positions in the two main global oil benchmarks are holding near historic highs.

“There’s a lot at stake running into this evening,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB AB. “It’s fantastic theater, he’s setting a precise time he’s going to talk to the world and has the whole oil market in his hands.”

While the value of WTI holdings doesn’t take into account the money put down by traders to hold a position in oil -- known as the margin -- it highlights the growth in the number of contracts held by traders so far this year. The combined number of Brent and WTI contracts hit its highest level on record last week, according to ICE Futures Europe and Nymex data.

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