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Oil higher on new Iran worries

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by Elaine Frei

The price of crude oil was higher on Monday after Iran said once again that it will not stop its uranium enrichment program, raising new fears of conflict with the West. The United Nations has told Iran to suspend its nuclear program by August 31 if it does not want to have sanctions imposed, but Iran said it was not ready to halt the program. In addition, it said recently that it was prepared to use the oil it exports as a weapon against the West in pursuing its nuclear ambitions.

Brent crude for October delivery was 77 cents higher to $73.07 per barrel in London, while West Texas Intermediate crude September contracts were trading 48 cents higher to $71.62 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices were up on Monday in response to political tensions over Iran, adding 1.5 percent to $623.60 per troy ounce.

Among base metals, copper was 2.4 percent higher to $7,685 per tonne as the Escondida mine strike in Chile began its third week. Nickel, meanwhile, added 1.8 percent to $28,500 per tonne as inventories in London Metal Exchange warehouses fell another 300 tonnes. Cash contracts for nickel were at $33,000 per tonne.

The London Metal Exchange said it was preparing to offer small contracts, to be electronically traded and settled with cash, for copper, aluminium, and zinc. These contracts, called “LMEminis”, will be tradeable only on the LME’s electronic trading system and are aimed at investors who do not want to physically take delivery of metals.

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News posted: August 21, 2006

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