Crude Oil Advances to Nine-Month High on Iran Export Halt, Europe Talks

As reported by Grant Smith and Yee Kai Pin of Bloomberg, oil rose to a nine-month high in New York after Iran said it halted some crude exports and investors bet that fuel demand will increase as Europe moves closer to bailing out Greece.

Futures climbed as much as 2.1 percent for a fourth day of gains, the longest rising streak since December. Iran will supply crude to “new customers” instead of companies in the U.K. and France, the oil ministry’s news website, Shana, said, citing Alireza Nikzad Rahbar, a spokesman. Prices also advanced as European finance ministers prepared to meet to discuss a 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) aid package for Greece, the country’s second rescue in less than two years.

“The heightened level of tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program continues to support prices, as does satisfactory growth in the U.S. and China,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London, who correctly predicted last week that the price of Brent crude would advance to $120 a barrel.

Crude for March delivery rose as much as $2.20 to $105.44 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest intraday price since May 5. The contract, which expires tomorrow, last traded at $104.92 at the 1:15 p.m. New York close of Globex electronic trading. The more actively traded April contract gained $1.66 to $105.26. Prices increased 4.6 percent last week and are up 6.2 percent so far this year.

Brent oil for April settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange climbed as much as $1.57, or 1.3 percent, to $121.15 a barrel before settling at $120.05. The European benchmark contract was at a premium of $15.13 to New York-traded crude. The gap was a record $27.88 on Oct. 14.

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