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Oil prices steady at US$68.75 after sharp climb the previous day
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-04-11 11:22 (KST)   
SINGAPORE

Oil prices held steady in Asian electronic trading Tuesday after hitting a seven-month high in New York the previous day amid concerns that Iran's nuclear standoff and violence in Nigeria could undermine supplies.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose 1 cent to US$68.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, midmorning in Singapore.

The contract rose US$1.35 to settle at US$68.74 on Monday.

Gasoline futures rose fractionally to US$2.0111 a gallon (3.8 liters) while heating oil prices also increased marginally to US$1.9464 a gallon. Natural gas futures were up slightly at US$6.890 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Chief among the oil-market fears these days are Iran's nuclear standoff with the international community and violence in Nigeria that has forced the shutdown of more than half a million barrels a day of supply. Both Iran and Nigeria are members of OPEC.

Another source of concern is that more than 300,000 barrels per day of Gulf of Mexico production remains off the market as a result of last summer's hurricanes.

On Aug. 30, front-month crude-oil futures traded as high as US$70.85, then settled at US$69.81.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program. But Iran has so far refused, saying the project is for research and not for development of nuclear weapons.

U.S. administration officials have left open the possibility of a military response if Iran does not end its nuclear ambitions, but President George W. Bush on Monday sought to dampen the idea of a U.S. military strike, saying that force is not necessarily required to stop Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

Still, oil prices were rising Monday partly in reaction to the possibility of a U.S. strike on the oil-rich nation, analysts said.

U.S. Energy Department data show U.S.gasoline demand was up nearly 1 percent in the first quarter, compared with a year earlier.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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