Oil down, most metals up

| April 26, 2006 | 0 Comments

Crude oil prices were down after a US inventories report that showed crude oil stockpiles down by 200,000 barrels in the week ending April 21, approximately the drop that had been expected. Despite the decline, crude oil inventories are at the highest levels in 8 years. Gasoline inventories were also down, for the eighth week in a row, but only by 1.9 million barrels against an expected decline of 2.6 million barrels.

June delivery Brent crude contracts on the International Petroleum Exchange in London dropped $1 to $72.21 per barrel after the inventories report. West Texas Intermediate crude June contracts were down 93 cents to $71.95 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, Nymex unleaded gasoline for May was less than 1 cent lower to $2.1200 per gallon.

With much of the current high gasoline pump prices in the United States being blamed on refining bottlenecks as refiners change over from MTBE blends to ethanol blends for the summer driving season, US President George W. Bush instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to issue waivers to allow states to continue to sell lower grades of gasoline to avoid shortages and resulting higher prices. However, so far only one state - Pennsylvania - has applied for a waiver, so it is uncertain how much of an effect the move will have on prices or supplies.

In metals markets, prices were mixed but most were up again.

Aluminium was up 1.5 percent to $2,835 per tonne on a report that stocks were down significantly in March. Meanwhile, three-month copper hit a new record of $7,380 per tonne despite a reported 500 tonne increase in inventories before slipping back to $7,280 per tonne. Zinc also hit a new record at $3,430 per tonne before dropping back to $3,365 per tonne later in the day.

Nickel was down 1.8 percent on the day to $19,650 per tonne, but only after achieving a new record high of $20,125 per tonne earlier in the session.

Among precious metals, gold added 1.4 percent to $638.50 per troy ounce. Platinum set another new record at $1,135 per troy ounce.

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