Oil prices fall

Published May 28, 2004

LONDON, May 27: World oil prices slid further from recent high points on Thursday, falling below $40 a barrel in New York ahead of a likely production boost by Opec producers next week.

New York's light sweet crude for July delivery tumbled by $1.32 to $39.38 in early trading. The reference contract was showing a drop of over two dollars since it peaked at $41.85 in electronic trading on May 17.

The price of benchmark Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in July fell by 63 cents to $36.45 in late deals in London. "I think people are taking a few profits in front of the long weekend" in London and New York, said Robert Laughlin, head trader at GNI-Man Financial.

"The general feeling is also that Opec is going to come up with a good thing next week," he added. Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ministers are due to meet in Beirut on Thursday to discuss a Saudi proposal to lift the cartel's official production ceiling by at least two million barrels per day.

"Saudi Arabia is the most powerful and influential of the group and the rest usually follow where the Saudi Arabians point," said Peter Kemp at Energy Intelligence Group. But he noted that the cartel was already producing some two million bpd above its official ceiling of 23.5 million bpd. -AFP

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