Oil prices steady after record-breaking surge
Agence France-Presse, London
World oil prices steadied on Friday, a day after rocketing higher on frenzied speculative buying amid concerns about tight supplies during a current period of strong global demand.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, climbed 17 U.S. cents to US$53.74 a barrel in electronic dealing.
Crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange had surged by as much as $2.15 to $55.20 a barrel during on Thursday trading -- a level approaching the all-time high of 55.67 hit last Oct. 25.
It later closed at $53.57, up 52 U.S. cents.
In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in April gained five cents to $52 a barrel on Friday.
Brent had on Thursday closed up 73 U.S.cents at $51.95 a barrel after surging at one point by as much as $1.78 to reach a new historic high point of $53.
The previous high had come last Oct. 27, when Brent reached $51.94.
The surge in prices came amid growing concern that the global economy was likely to need more oil to keep up with economic growth, and that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may be keeping supplies tight, analysts said.
World oil prices have nearly trebled from about $20 a barrel in New York at the start of 2002.
Adjusted for inflation, however, they remain far below the levels reached in the wake of the 1979 Iranian revolution, when prices surged to upwards of $80 a barrel in today's dollars.