- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

NEW YORK, Jan. 27 (UPI) — Oil futures fell sharply Monday as United Nations chief arms inspector Hans Blix gave Iraq mixed reviews on its level of cooperation with the weapons of mass destruction inspection teams and requested additional time to complete the mission.

February crude dropped 99 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange, closing at $32.29 per barrel in trading some analysts saw as profit-taking ahead of President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Bush is expected to lay out a case for war with Iraq in his televised speech, but he is not expected to announce any imminent attack that would disrupt the flow of oil from the Gulf.

In addition, Blix told the Security Council that his team could wrap up its work in a "few months" and there did not appear to be any indication that the inspections wouldn't be allowed to continue.

The crude selling on NYMEX also pulled February gasoline down 2.1 cents per gallon to 90.15 cents per gallon. Heating oil closed at 93.43 cents per gallon, down 1.59 cents on the day.

Retail gasoline prices were up again Monday by 1.4 cents per gallon over last week, averaging $1.47 per gallon.

(Reported by Hil Anderson, UPI Chief Energy Correspondent)

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