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Crude-oil futures closed at a seven and a half-month high of $70.40 a barrel Monday (April 17), as continued worries about friction between Iran and the West pushed prices close to last summer’s hurricane-related highs.
CBS MarketWatch reported that crude for May delivery increased $1.08, trading as high as $70.45 a barrel shortly before the close, bringing it near the all-time high for a front-month contract of $70.85 set on Aug. 30.
Gasoline rallied as well on concerns about recent declines in stocks of the fuel, as refiners prepare for the phasing out of an additive by a May deadline.
Gasoline for May delivery was last up 1.41 cents at $2.122 a gallon, after touching $2.127 a gallon, the contract’s highest-ever level.
Refusing to bow to demands from Western governments and the U.N. Security Council, Iran said over the weekend that it will continue to enrich uranium for its nuclear program, which it says is aimed solely at generating power for civilian use.
Ali Larijani, its top nuclear official, said over the weekend that demands to halt the program were “irrational,” the BBC reported.
Phil Flynn, senior market analyst and vice president of Alaron Trading, said that with its actions, Iran has unsettled the oil market.
“The oil market is taking the threat seriously, as Iran may have gone down the path that leads to the point of no return,” he added.
Africa also remained in focus for the oil market, following a series of recent attacks on Nigerian pipelines operated by foreign companies.