MARKET WATCH
NYMEX crude oil futures top $60

OGJ editors
HOUSTON, June 28 -- August crude futures prices settled at $60.54/bbl on June 27 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the first time crude oil settled at $60 or higher since NYMEX began trading oil futures in 1983.

Traders said the market is testing to see what price levels can be sustained at current levels of world energy demand.

Another factor supporting prices is the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative, as Iran's president. Analysts said his election could contribute to increased tension in the region.

The August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes closed up by 70¢. The September contract increased by 84¢ to at $61.33/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate gained 89¢ to $60.54/bbl.

Heating oil for July delivery rose by 2.57¢ to $1.6761/gal on NYMEX. Gasoline for the same month increased 1.93¢ at $1.675/gal. The July 4 holiday was expected to promote high gasoline demand and to support strong prices, traders said.

The July natural gas contract lost 22¢ to $7.138/MMbtu June 27 on NYMEX.

Gas prices were "undermined by moderating weather, particularly in the Northeast," Enerfax Daily analysts said.

In London, the August contract for North Sea Brent crude rose by 94¢ to $59.30/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' new basket of 11 benchmark crudes increased by 90¢ to $54.26/bbl.

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