Crude oil futures popped through the $50 a barrel level again on Thursday on lingering concerns of supply disruptions. The high oil price also helped push UK winter gas prices to a record high.
Oil prices were also buoyed by a rise in the gasoline and heating oil front-month futures ahead of expiry at the end of the session.
IPE Brent for November delivery gained 30 cents to close at $46.38 a barrel in London, below its intra-day peak of $46.65. This was in turn just below the benchmark Brent contract’s record high of $46.80 on Tuesday.
November Nymex WTI advanced 13 cents to settle at $49.16 a barrel in New York, having peaked earlier in the session at $50.10 a barrel.
The front-month Nymex WTI contract peaked at $50.47 on Tuesday.
October Nymex gasoline futures gained 1 cent to $1.3460 a gallon, and the October Nymex heating oil futures increased by 0.92 cents to $1.3830 a gallon.
UK natural gas prices were buoyant. IPE natural gas futures peaked at 61p a therm, before easing to 60.75p near the close in London, or about 1p up on the day. British natural gas prices have risen on concerns of tightening supply as the North Sea gas reserves deplete at a time that Britain's capacity to import gas is limited owing to a lack of infrastructure.
This situation is expected to change dramatically in the next few years, a factor that has prompted gas traders to say that the spike in winter gas prices is unsustainable.
US natural gas prices extended their 16 per cent rise from the previous two sessions with the November Nymex Henry Hub natural gas price 0.6 cents up at $7.00 per million British thermal units. The increase came despite the rise in US gas storage level to more than 3,000bn cubic feet for the first time this autumn. This level is seen as sufficient storage to keep steady supplies over the winter period.
Gold hit a fresh five-month high for the second successive day, reaching $417.45 a troy ounce, before easing to $416.90/$417.40 a troy ounce by the close in London trade, up from its late quote of $412.65/$413.40 in late New York trade on Wednesday.
The rise in energy and metal prices helped propel the Reuters CRB index of 17 commodity futures to a 23 year high of 285.37, exceeding the previous record set in March when energy, metal and agricultural prices were all hitting long-term highs.
Comex copper futures hit a nine-month high of $1.4080 a pound, a level last reached in 1995.
The more widely traded three month copper contract on the London Metal Exchange ended $7.5 higher at $2,997.5 per tonne.