Oil Prices Rise over $72 per Barrel

By Alan Fein

New York - Crude oil prices marched higher Tuesday, passing the $72 per barrel mark as OPEC ministers ready to meet in Venezuela this week to discuss production quotas and Iran holds out a hand to negotiators, though no one thing could be attributed to Tuesday's price increase.

Crude oil for July delivery rose 73 cents per barrel to $72.10 in New York Tuesday afternoon following the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend when Americans begin consuming more fuel during the peak summer period. Last week Wednesday, crude oil prices fell below $70 for the first time in weeks as the EIA released a report showing gasoline stocks were higher. In London on the ICE exchange, Brent crude oil for July delivery rose 54 cents to $71.10.

Unleaded gasoline in New York was up 1 cent at $2.12 per gallon after reaching a higher earlier in the day of $2.17 per gallon. Heating oil climbed 3 cents per gallon to $2.03.

Gold for June delivery on the NYMEX moved higher Tuesday reaching $653.90, up $2.90 per ounce. Silver matched gold's price increase in New York, rising 34 cents per ounce to $13.07. The increase in precious metals shows sentiment towards inflation fears as stocks fell on higher energy prices, bringing the Dow down 157 points, or 1.4 percent, at 11,120 by 3pm.

OPEC ministers are set to meet in Caracas Venezuela on Thursday to informally discuss global production quotas. Worrying commodity traders may be the news that Iran's oil minister, Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh, will chair a monitoring committee of OPEC there. Hamaneh is also delivering a private message to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which is adding to traders concerns.