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Oil prices fall, remain above $61 per barrel


by Elaine Frei
October 26, 2006

Crude oil prices were lower on Thursday but remained at or above the $61 per barrel level. The declines came after Wednesday saw the biggest one day price gain in seven months on reports that inventories had dropped much more than had been expected last week. The lower prices also came despite the fact that Iran and Nigeria had confirmed that they will adhere to OPEC production cuts even though some analysts expected them to be reluctant to cut output that they were already struggling to bring up to quota.

December contracts for Brent crude dropped 65 cents to $61.40 per barrel in London. Meanwhile, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery fell 40 cents to $61 per barrel.

Natural gas inventories were up 19 billion cubic feet in the US last week, just below the predicted rise of 24 billion cubic feet, remaining near record levels. Nymex November Henry Hub was slightly lower to $7.655 per million British thermal units.

Metals prices were mixed on Thursday. Among base metals, zinc was higher as inventories dropped, while lead prices declined and the price of copper remained about the same. London Metal Exchange warehouses saw their zinc inventories drop another 1,750 tonnes, sending the metal’s price 1.5 percent higher to $4,100 per tonne. Lead dropped 1.6 percent to $1,560 per tonne despite the shutdown of a facility in Australia that sent output there down by 28,233 tonnes. Copper traded at $7,450 per tonne even though labor contract negotiations involving the largest unit of the world’s biggest producer, Codelco, have not been successful.

Among precious metals, prices for both gold and silver were higher as the US dollar weakened. The price of gold added 0.8 percent to $595.60 per troy ounce, while silver gained 2.3 percent to $12.14 per troy ounce.



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