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Big funds take dive as prices plummet

Myrtle Beach Online – The deflating commodities bubble is claiming its first casualties as large investment funds absorb staggering losses from bad bets that prices for oil, precious metals and grains would keep going up.

Hedge fund operator Ospraie Management LLC notified investors Tuesday that it’s closing its flagship fund after it suffered losses in August on positions in energy, mining and other natural resource-related stocks that left the fund down nearly 40 percent year-to-date. It’s believed to be the first hedge fund to go bust in this latest commodities boom as prices come crashing down after a historic bull-run earlier this year.

And the bloodletting may have only begun. Wall Street analysts say similar trouble looms for other funds that got caught up in the exuberance of the boom but were too late in getting out.

They say Ospraie’s misfortunes illustrate one of the hard lessons emerging from the commodities bubble: Many money managers have never been through a commodities boom and so were ill-prepared for the hyper-volatility associated with hard assets.

"You’re always going to have victims when a market comes down this fast. People stayed at the party for too long," said Phil Flynn, energy analyst at Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago.

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