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Brent oil price closes above 70 dollars for first time

AFP | April 14 2006

The price of Brent North Sea crude oil closed above 70 dollars a barrel for the first time on Thursday, fuelled by growing tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

In London, Brent crude for June delivery jumped 71 cents to finish the day at 70.57 dollars a barrel, off an all-time high reached earlier of 70.72 dollars.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, closed up 70 cents at 69.32 dollars a barrel. That was in sight of its record high reached last August of 70.85 dollars.

London's Brent contract has been striking record highs since Monday on market concerns that the United States might launch military strikes at uranium facilities in Iran, the world's fourth-largest producer of crude.

Jim Ritterbusch at oil trading firm Ritterbusch and Associates said dealers had covered their positions before the oil market takes a day off Friday for the Easter weekend.

Next week, he said, fears of US shortages of gasoline would make crude futures test new highs as New York's May contract prepares to expire on Thursday.

"I think before it expires next Thursday it will be pulled up by gasoline enough to test its record high of 70.85," he said.

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