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...