Gasoline predicts oil price raise

Gasoline futures surged and crude prices rose Thursday, with U.S. plans to tap strategic reserves to counter Hurricane Katrina's destructive romp doing little to ease concern about damage to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Analysts warned of tough energy times ahead, saying the effects left by the pummeling of the region's oil industry, particularly the refining sector, could take time to remedy.

Light sweet crude for October rose 21 cents to US$69.15 a barrel by afternoon in Europe. Gasoline jumped nearly 13 cents to US$2.3850 a gallon (3.8 liters).

On London's International Petroleum Exchange, October Brent futures rose 36 cents to US$67.38 a barrel.

Also lifting gasoline futures was word that wholesale gasoline suppliers in the U.S. have begun capping the amount of fuel they sell to retailers in certain markets to make sure retailers do not take delivery of more than they need. Analysts said that while shortages have been reported in a small number of markets, they did not believe the problem is widespread, according to the AP.

Still, with gas stocks tight even before Katrina struck, the storm's impact was not restricted to the United States.

While the details were being worked out about how much oil would be loaned from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, European nations began considering the release of their own government-controlled stockpiles of gasoline and heating oil, according to officials at the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

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