Crude price moves past $38

Associated Press

Washington, March 18:

Oil prices pushed past $38 a barrel yesterday, closing above that level for the first time in 14 years, and analysts predicted that already-high gasoline prices would keep moving higher.

Amid reports of dwindling gasoline supplies and growing demand, the price of light sweet crude for delivery in April jumped to $38.35 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, an increase of 87 cents.

It later retreated slightly, closing at $38.18. The last time the price soared this high was in February 2003 amid concern that an invasion of Iraq might damage Mideast oil wells and disrupt the flow of crude. The price on the New York exchange peaked at a shade under $40 a barrel on February 27, 2003, before falling back under $38 for that day.

While crude inventories actually increased slightly last week, stocks of gasoline declined to nearly 10 million barrels below the five-year average for this time of year, according to the Energy Information Administration.