- The Washington Times - Monday, April 17, 2006

Crude oil futures hit $70 a barrel for the first time in seven-and- a-half months today, pushed higher by concerns about supply disruptions in Nigeria and tension over Iran’s nuclear program. Light sweet crude for May delivery briefly touched $70 a barrel before easing to $69.73 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange - up 28 cents from Thursday’s close. The Nymex was closed for the Good Friday holiday.

The last time crude futures surpassed $70 a barrel was on Aug. 30 when they climbed to $70.85 a barrel, then settled at $69.81, after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

ABN Amro broker Lee Fader said the main factor behind Monday’s increase was “heightened fear about military action” against Iran, which has said it would go ahead with plans to enrich uranium, defying the United States, Europe and United Nations nuclear experts. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, but the West fears the country is intent on arming itself with nuclear weapons.

“If somehow this got resolved diplomatically,” Mr. Fader said, “that would definitely take a few dollars off” the price of crude oil. On the other hand, if crude futures rise above $70.85, “it can go anywhere at that point” because, from a technical trading standpoint, there is no resistance above that level, he said.

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