- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006


Crude oil futures fell almost $2 a barrel yesterday on profit-taking after prices topped $75 last week, but analysts said the decline was likely to be temporary.

“The markets can’t go up every day,” said oil broker Andrew Lebow of Man Financial in New York. “Profit-taking is one of the features of trading.”

Underlying worries about the security of world oil supplies persisted after Iran — facing a U.N. deadline to cease enriching uranium — insisted that its nuclear program was irreversible. Another major oil producer unsettling the market is Venezuela, which over the weekend reasserted its intentions to give the state greater control of oil fields being operated by foreign-owned oil companies.

Concerns about gasoline supplies in the U.S. also kept a high floor under prices.

Light sweet crude for June delivery fell $1.84 to settle at $73.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at a record $75.17 a barrel on Friday after peaking at an intraday high of $75.35.

Crude for June delivery on London’s ICE Futures exchange fell $1.57 to close at $73 a barrel.

Gasoline futures fell 6.45 cents to settle at $2.1739 a gallon, while heating-oil prices slumped more than four cents to $2.0317 a gallon. Natural-gas futures were down 42.3 cents at $7.558 per 1,000 cubic feet.

“The oil market is now down because most people are taking profits after seeing a sharp increase last week,” said Tetsu Emori, chief commodities strategist at Mitsui Bussan Futures in Tokyo.

Mr. Emori said market participants continued to be worried about how international pressure on Iran, OPEC’s No. 2 oil producer, will affect its crude output. Rebel disruptions of oil production in Nigeria, the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports, also pose a risk to supply.

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