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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
US petrol demand lifts oil prices
US refinery
During summer months, oil prices tend to follow US petrol demand
Global oil prices have touched a 10-month high, breaking past the $73 a barrel level in the face of soaring American demand for petrol.

With an estimated record 41.4 million Americans hitting the roads for Independence Day travel, analysts predict a squeeze on US petrol stocks.

As this spills over into increased US oil imports, Brent crude went as high as $73.12 a barrel in Wednesday trade.

Seen as the best guide to global prices, it then fell back to $72.90.

Meanwhile, US light crude was down 1 cent to $71.40.

Ongoing anti-government violence in Nigeria has also put an upward pressure on global oil prices.

'Willing to pay'

"The strong upwards momentum in the oil market remains in place," said Barclays Capital in a report.

The surge in US demand for petrol comes despite record high prices at the pumps.

"The mood in the market has been bullish, driven by the gasoline market in the US," said Victor Shum, energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

"For crude to retreat, the market will need to see signals of demand going down.

"The reality is that [US] consumers are willing to pay high prices."

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