Oil prices surge
Oil prices surged, reaching 10-year high levels in London as US stocks remained around their lowest levels since 1976 and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose country holds the rotating OPEC presidency, seemed to adopt a defiantly anti-West stance.
In London, a barrel of Brent crude for October delivery was trading at $30.72 by midday Friday, slightly lower than $30.90 a week ago for the September contract.
In New York, light sweet crude for September delivery closed at $31.94 on Thursday compared with $31.34 the week before.
On Tuesday, in London the September contract spiked to $32.80 a barrel, its highest level since late 1990, following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq.
In November 1990, the price of Brent rose to $32.45 and in the previous month it rose to a high of $40.95 a barrel.
Analysts stressed that in London the strength of prices was exaggerated ahead of the expiry of the September contract, although they also said that stocks were running dangerously low.
Some analysts also blamed the continued strong prices on comments from Venezuela and the Saudi press suggesting that OPEC would hold back from any output increase until its meeting on September 10 in Vienna.
But others pointed out that no increase was expected before then in any case under OPEC's price band mechanism. They also said that Venezuela seemed to be toning down its rhetoric after an initially tough stance.
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)