Oil surges close to USD 100 per barrel

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London, Jan 14 (AFP) World oil prices leapt to a newtwo-year high close to USD 100 dollars per barrel today aheadof the Brent contract''s expiry, rebounding in volatile thinpre-weekend trade, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February soaredto USD 99.20 in late afternoon deals -- touching the highestlevel since October 1, 2008 and not far from the psychologicallevel of USD 100.

The Brent contract, which expires at the close, laterstood at USD 98.66 a barrel, up 60 cents from yesterday''sclosing level. March becomes the front-month contract onMonday.

Meanwhile, New York''s main contract, light sweet crudefor February, slid 47 cents to USD 90.93 per barrel.

"London''s benchmark Brent crude touched on highs aboveUSD 99 ahead of February expiry on Friday," VTB Capitalanalyst Andrey Kryuchenkov told AFP.

"It is because it''s the last day of trading for theFebruary contract, and the market is rolling into March," headded, and also citing volatile light trading volumes.

In recent days and weeks, oil prices have beencatapulted higher as recent freezing winter weather stokedhopes of rising energy demand in Europe.

At the same time, the market has been propelled by theweaker dollar, supply problems and falling energy reserves inthe United States.

On Wednesday, Brent oil had spiked close to 99dollars, boosted as the key Trans-Alaskan pipeline remainedshut following a leak that struck over the weekend. The keylink reopened yesterday. (AFP)

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