Crude oil prices rise significantly

Crude oil prices as well as gasoline and heating oil futures were up substantially on Thursday as Italian energy company ENI said that it could not honor some of its contracts due to attacks by militants on its facilities in Nigeria. In addition, ExxonMobil announced that it had shut down some units of its refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the first of the refineries to shut down for annual maintenance after putting off that work after last falla��s disruptions during the hurricane season.

By late afternoon in London Brent crude May contracts on the International Petroleum Exchange had risen by $1.52 to $63.01 per barrel, while May delivery West Texas Intermediate crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up by $1.98 to $63.75 per barrel by early afternoon. May Nymex heating oil futures gained 3 cents to $1.7754 per gallon, while April Nymex gasoline futures were up 3.2 cents to $1.7685 per gallon.

Gold was down $1 to $549.00/$549.90 per troy ounce, but had risen from $545.30 earlier in the day. Silver, however, was up again, to $10.66 per troy ounce. Silver is up 60 percent since last August.

In base metals, copper and zinc hit new highs again, while aluminium, lead, nickel, and tin were all also higher on the day.

Copper has risen 8 percent since the beginning of March. The three-month price on the London Metal Exchange rose as high as $5,245 per tonne during the day before dropping slightly to $5,238, still $129 higher than Wednesdaya��s closing price.

Three-month zinc also hit a new high, rising to $2,582.5 per tonne before falling back to $2,560 per tonne, a gain of $34 over ita��s previous close.

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