Source Pravda.Ru

Oil prices topped $65 a barrel

U.S. crude oil futures scaled an all-time peak above $66 on Friday, with London Brent crude, U.S. gasoline and heating oil also hitting new highs, on strong U.S. economic data and fears of tighter gasoline supplies.

NYMEX crude for September delivery briefly touched $66.11 a barrel in ACCESS electronic trading, the highest for a prompt crude contract since the New York Mercantile Exchange.

NYMEX introduced crude oil futures in 1983.

The previous high was $66, just struck on Thursday.

By 0341 GMT, September crude was trading up 30 cents or 0.46 percent at $66.10 a barrel, with just 2,228 contracts changing hands, according to Reuters.

Thursday's settlement was $65.80, gaining 90 cents or 1.5 percent and setting the loftiest level for a settlement price.

Traders put the next psychological resistance at $70, then $75.

London's September Brent crude surged to a historic high of $65.78 a barrel in electronic trading, beating the previous record of $65.66 struck on Thursday.

The contract settled up $1.39, or 2.2 percent, at $65.38 on Thursday.

Strong U.S. economic data as well as a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) projecting declining non-OPEC supply growth were fundamentally bullish for the energy markets, traders said.

On Thursday, a U.S. government report showed retail sales jumped 1.8 percent last month as buyer incentives led to the biggest gain in auto sales since just after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"There are no clear indications to sell. Rather, these statistical figures are calling investment money back to the oil market," said Naohiro Niimura, vice president of the derivatives unit at Mizuho Corporate Bank.

"Data showed sustained strength in the U.S. economy despite high oil prices, and the figures were especially good in the auto sector. The market wants to see if the economy can cope with $70 oil."

If U.S. crude hits $70 but stock markets avoid a big decline, oil will scale higher peaks, Niimura said Fund buying was strong in gasoline futures following a U.S. government report on Wednesday that showed domestic gasoline supplies had fallen for a sixth straight week amid a spate of refinery troubles, traders said.

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