Crude prices rise on anticipated demand for heating oil

| January 26, 2007

Anticipated demand for heating oil amid forecasts of cold weather in the United States sent crude oil prices up on Friday. One forecast has temperatures in the Northwest and Midwest US remaining below normal for at least a week.

March contracts for Brent crude was 78 cents higher to $54.90 per barrel by late afternoon in London, a gain of nearly 3 percent on the week but still $5 below its price at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery had added 78 cents by late morning trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange to $54.98 per barrel. WTI prices were up almost 6 percent during the week, helped by the announcement that the US will double its strategic oil reserves.

In metals markets on Friday, gold dropped close to $3 to trade at $643.90/$644.90 per troy ounce. It had gone to a nearly six-month high of $654 during Thursday’s session amid rumors that the International Monetary Fund had taken a decision to change guidelines on the accounting for central bank gold loans. The IMF denied the rumors and said it was still looking at the issue.

Three-month nickel hit a new record high for the eighth session in a row when it briefly rose to $38,800 per tonne on Friday on the London Metal Exchange after both sides at the Sudbury nickel mine in Canada rejected offers ahead of a January 31 strike deadline. The possibility of a strike comes at a time when inventories remain at about a day’s worth of worldwide consumption. Elsewhere, three-month aluminium dropped $5 to $2,787 per tonne, $110 below the cash price.

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