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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
Attacks warning pushes oil higher
Oil tanker in California
World oil demand is growing
Crude oil prices pushed upward to yet another record on Monday after a weekend warning of possible al-Qaeda attacks on global financial bodies.

The US government ratcheted up alert levels on Sunday, saying it knew of threats to the IMF, World Bank and New York stock exchange.

The price of US light, sweet crude hit $43.92 (24.09) a barrel in Asian trade on Monday, breaching Friday's record.

Jitters also hit stocks on Monday, with most Asian major markets lower.

The attack warnings were the latest factor unsettling oil prices.

Crude prices have been bolstered by the growing global thirst for oil as the US recovers and China develops, coupled with supply shortages, acts of sabotage in Iraq and worries about the possible bankruptcy of Russian producer Yukos.

Oil tanker

The cost of a barrel of US crude closed at $43.85 on Friday in New York, its highest level since trading began on the exchange 21 years ago.

In London, Brent crude hit a 14-year high of $40.05 a barrel.

Fears of oil price rises and the economic damage that could follow a major attack sent shares tumbling in Asia, with airlines, exporters such as camera maker Canon and car manufacturer Toyota, and insurers all hit.

London's bluechip FTSE 100 index opened lower, losing 0.4% in early morning trade.

Japan's Nikkei stocks index shed 0.9% by the close of trade on Monday, while South Korea's leading Kospi index lost 2.1%, dipping to its lowest close in 10 months. Hong Kong's Hang Seng had dropped 0.6% by midday.

Lord Browne, chief executive of giant UK oil producer BP, has told the BBC he expects the oil price to go higher.

Oil producer's cartel Opec has come under pressure to cool the market, but analysts tend to support Opec's view that it is already pumping flat out and has little room to raise output.

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