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    Oil prices hold above $120 a barrel for first time

    06.05.2008 - 09:43 | Son Güncelleme:

    Oil futures held steady above $120 a barrel Tuesday in Asia after surpassing that mark for the first time in the previous session on threats to supply and a weakening of the U.S. dollar.

    The surge in oil prices was also fueled by hopes that the U.S. economy will be spared a sharp downturn after the release of data Monday showing an unexpected expansion in the U.S. service sector in April, analysts said. 
    Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose 20 cents to $120.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore. The contract surged to a trading record of $120.36 a barrel overnight before settling at $119.97 a barrel, up $3.65 from Fridays close.
    "The bulls are in control of the market," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. "The economic report out of the U.S. yesterday on the service sector seems to suggest the economic slowdown may not be as deep as initially thought."
    "The sentiment is that the oil pricing is likely going to stay quite strong, with a lot of volatility," Shum said. 
    The dollar weakened against the euro on Monday, attracting investors to oil and other commodities viewed as hedges against inflation. Also, a falling dollar makes oil less expensive to investors overseas. A series of U.S. Federal Reserve rate cuts starting last year weakened the dollar considerably against foreign currencies, and analysts blame the dollars protracted decline for oils sharp rise this spring.
    Supply outages or potential threats to supply emerged in Iran and Nigeria over the weekend and from Iraq on Monday; events in all three nations have caused prices to spike many times in recent months.
    In Iraq, Kurdish rebels warned they could launch suicide attacks against American interests to punish the U.S. for sharing intelligence with Turkey after Turkey bombed rebel bases in Iraq on Friday. In Nigeria, a Royal Dutch Shell PLC spokesman said attackers hit an oil facility belonging to Shells joint venture in southern Nigeria and that some oil production has been shut down. And Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country will not bend to international pressure and give up its nuclear program.
    Energy investors grow concerned any time conflict breaks out or is threatened in the oil-rich Middle East. Years of unrest in Nigeria have cut off nearly a quarter of the major U.S. suppliers oil output.
    Amid the occasional threats to crude supplies, global demand for oil continues to grow. While demand for oil and gasoline has been soft in the U.S., the Chinese and Indian economies are growing by double digits, boosting global demand for oil.
    In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures rose 0.24 cent to $3.3089 a gallon (3.8 liters) while gasoline prices added 0.31 cent to $3.056 a gallon. Natural gas futures gained 1.2 cents to $11.19 per 1,000 cubic feet.
    Brent crude futures rose 19 cents to $118.18 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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