Oil price hits 28-month high above $102

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Brent crude prices rose above $102 Wednesday, reaching a 28-month high, as mounting unrest in Egypt offset an increase in US energy stockpiles, traders said.

Copper and tin futures meanwhile hit record highs owing to strong demand for the industrial metals amid a tight supply situation.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March reached $102.36 a barrel -- the highest point since September 29, 2008. It went on to stand at $102.17 in late London trade, up 43 cents compared with Tuesday's close.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for March, gained 44 cents to $91.21 a barrel.

"Oil prices have continued to gain on the back of clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo, as concerns about the black gold continue to weigh on sentiment, and possible supply disruptions caused by continued unrest," said Michael Hewson, an analyst at trading group CMC Markets.

Chaos consumed Cairo's Tahrir Square on Wednesday as supporters of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak clashed with opposition protesters in running battles that left hundreds of people injured.

While Egypt is not a major crude producer, the country is home to the crucial Suez Canal, which carries about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day -- roughly equivalent to the daily output of Iraq or Brazil.

Brent crossed the psychological barrier of $100 on Monday for the first time in more than two years, on mounting fears over Egypt.

Investors are also concerned that the kind of demonstrations seen in Egypt could spread elsewhere in the oil-rich Middle East. Protests in Tunisia have already seen the removal of the president there.

The White House on Wednesday condemned violence against peaceful protesters in Cairo and said it was deeply concerned about attacks on the media.

New York crude is meanwhile vastly underperforming Brent owing to high levels of oil supplies at the Cushing depot in Oklahoma.

Official US data published Wednesday showed that crude stockpiles rose by 2.6 million barrels last week in the United States -- the world's biggest oil consuming nation.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, copper prices for delivery in three months hit a record high of $9,988.25 a tonne and tin struck an all-time peak of $30,790 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange.


© 2011 AFP

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