* Brent open interest hits all-time high in January
* Brent consolidates at $48.50/bbl GRAPHIC: Brent open interest: link.reuters.com/das83w
By Florence Tan SINGAPORE, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Weekly investor interest in Brent crude futures rose to a record in January, stirring talk positions are being built in the market for a price rebound in a benchmark that has suffered a 60 percent slump since the middle of last year.
Brent’s open interest on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) , or the number of outstanding contracts held by market players at the end of each day, climbed to 1.694 million lots in the week of Jan. 20, according to the latest weekly data from ICE.
Some traders are taking the increase in open interest to be a sign investors are putting more money into the market. Since that day, Brent has hovered between $48 and 50 a barrel, off a near six-year low set in the previous week.
Oil prices have more than halved since the middle of 2014 as ample global supplies hammered prices. More pessimistic forecasts for the global economy this year have also cut the outlook for commodities including crude oil.
“In a bearish market like now, increasing open interest affects prices by giving strong support,” said Daniel Ang, a Singapore-based analyst at Phillips Futures. “At about $40-45, there is doubt that the industry could sustain (itself).” (Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Editing by Ryan Woo)