Oil pulls back from record high
Crude oil futures on Monday fell back from last week's record levels as traders took some profits from the recent run-up, but few were expecting an end to oil's recent volatility.
The July contract settled at $134.45 US a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down $4.09 a barrel from Friday's record close. A wild rally that day sent oil futures soaring a one-day record $10.75 US a barrel.
Oil prices surged Friday after an analyst at Morgan Stanley forecast that oil would reach $150 US a barrel by July 4. Comments from an Israeli cabinet minister that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities appeared "unavoidable" sent oil futures further into the stratosphere.
"We're likely to see some pullback … and a choppy period of ups and downs," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.
"We're not going to see a substantial reduction in demand," he told the Associated Press. "Supply-side concerns will continue to support pricing."
Over the weekend, the soaring price of oil topped the agenda at a meeting of the G8 industrialized countries in Japan. They called for more energy efficiency and urged OPEC to boost output.
Saudi Arabia — the only OPEC member that is in a position to produce more oil — called Monday for an urgent summit to discuss soaring energy prices, which one Saudi minister called unjustified.
Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty, who will travel to Japan later this week to meet with his G8 counterparts, said he would be willing to support a production boost.
"I suppose we can encourage more supply,'' he told reporters in Montreal.
Finance officials at a background briefing in Ottawa said the finance ministers will be looking for ways to address the sudden oil price spike. Reports said those officials said Flaherty will tell his colleagues that market forces should be allowed to work to bring down oil prices.
The average price of gasoline in the United States hit $4 a U.S. gallon for the first time ever on Sunday, according to the American Automobile Association. It rose further to $4.04 US on Monday.
In Canada, the average price for a litre of gas was $1.3447 on Monday, according to GasBuddy.com, a website that monitors gas prices in North America. In Montreal, motorists were paying as much as $1.51 a litre on Monday.
With files from the Associated Press