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Crude Oil Rally in Focus represented in an image.

Crude Oil Rally in Focus as Retail Traders Turn Net-Short for First Time Since April

The “crude oil rally” has been nothing short of impressive, with prices surging over 17% since bottoming out in mid-June. This month’s WTI prices have witnessed a significant 13% increase, making it the best 20-day period for oil since January 2022. Amid the evolving market conditions, an intriguing shift in retail trader positioning has emerged. For the first time since April, retail traders have turned net-short on crude oil, with around 47% holding downside exposure. In this article, we delve into the implications of this shift in trader sentiment and explore the technical analysis surrounding the ongoing crude oil rally, with a particular focus on the key resistance zone that lies ahead.

Crude Oil Rally

The recent crude oil rally has captured the attention of traders and investors alike. The surge in prices has been driven by various factors, including improved global economic outlook, increased demand for oil as economies reopen, and supply constraints. However, what adds an intriguing dimension to this rally is the shift in retail trader sentiment.

According to IG Client Sentiment (IGCS), which tends to function as a contrarian indicator, approximately 47% of retail traders are now net-short on crude oil. This marks the first time since April that the majority of retail traders have turned bearish on the commodity. This shift in sentiment raises questions about the underlying factors driving this change and whether it aligns with the ongoing bullish trend in crude oil.

Bullish Contrarian Bias

The shift in retail trader sentiment towards a net-short position may signal a bullish contrarian conviction. Contrarian traders often take positions opposite to the prevailing sentiment, as extreme sentiment can sometimes indicate potential market reversals. In this case, the increasing number of retail traders taking a bearish stance could suggest that the market sentiment is reaching an extreme point. Contrarians may interpret this as a signal that the crude oil rally could have further upside potential.

Moreover, the change in retail trader positioning has been accompanied by a substantial increase in downside exposure. Compared to yesterday, downside exposure has risen by 7.73%, and it has surged by 44.89% compared to last week. This surge in bearish positioning adds weight to the bullish contrarian bias, further supporting the notion that crude oil prices may continue to rise.

Technical Analysis and Key Resistance Zone

Technical analysis adds depth to the understanding of the crude oil rally and the potential challenges it faces. WTI crude oil prices have recently confirmed a breakout above the 200-day Moving Average (MA), suggesting the possibility of a longer-term shift in orientation. This technical development indicates growing bullish sentiment among traders.

However, there remains a notable obstacle on the horizon – the 81.44 to 83.48 resistance zone. If crude oil prices struggle to breach this range and pivot lower, it could introduce a neutral technical bias, indicating a potential period of consolidation or pullback in prices.

Source: dailyFX

In such an instance, a rectangular trading pattern may emerge, with prices falling back to the 63.60 to 65.72 support zone. To gauge the likelihood of this scenario, market participants must closely monitor the near-term rising support line from late June, marked by the red line on the daily chart. A break below this support line could increase the probability of a pullback to the support zone.

On the other hand, if crude oil prices continue to climb higher and surpass the resistance zone, the focus shifts beyond to the 92.43 to 93.72 resistance zone from November. This further upside potential would reinforce the bullish outlook for crude oil and attract further interest from traders.


The crude oil rally has attracted attention from both retail traders and seasoned investors. The remarkable surge in prices has coincided with a significant shift in retail trader sentiment, with the majority now holding a net-short position for the first time since April. This contrarian bearish bias, coupled with technical analysis, suggests that crude oil prices may have further upside potential.

However, traders must remain cautious and closely monitor the key resistance zone ahead. A successful breach of this zone could pave the way for further gains, while a failure to overcome it may lead to consolidation or a pullback. As the market navigates through these dynamics, market participants must employ a strategic approach to capitalize on potential opportunities and manage risk effectively.

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