28 January 2003, 17:42  Oil rises ahead of Bush address

The price of crude oil has see-sawed upwards again ahead of President George W. Bush's State of the Union address later on Tuesday. Brent crude, the benchmark traded on the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) in London, gained 32 cents to $30.18 a barrel at 1002 GMT. The oil market has been extremely volatile in the build-up to a possible war against Iraq. Traders surmise oil supplies from Iraq could be blocked in the short term but released in the long term if Saddam's regime is toppled. Light crude, the US standard traded in New York, rose 33 cents to $32.62 a barrel in electronic trade.
Prices fell on Monday after chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix said he had no evidence to support US claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Waiting for Bush
But, during Asian trade, prices swung the other way again after a media report that the US would be ready to launch an attack in February. An Iraqi warning that it might retaliate against neighbouring Kuwait, which hosts a large US military presence and is a major oil producer, also added momentum to the price rise. Mr Bush will make his address at 0200 GMT on Wednesday. His spokesman Ari Fleischer said that the contents of the speech would not amount to a deadline or a "declaration of war" - but that Mr Bush was likely to spell out in broad terms the threat Iraq poses to US interests. Mr Blix on Monday praised Iraq's co-operation with his inspectors, but criticised omissions from its weapons declaration about its long range missile, chemical and biological arms programmes. //news.bbc.co.uk

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