Oil tops $75 a barrel

Mumbai: Crude futures hit a fresh high of $75.78 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) amidst growing demand for gasoline, rising fears of a showdown in North Korea and Iran and production disruptions in Nigeria.

August delivery crude was trading at $75.32 at noon in London while Brent for August rose 67 cents to $74.75 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

Gasoline demand in the United States increased 1.4 per cent in the last four weeks from a year ago even as inventories showed a general fall, as per latest government data. Commercial inventories of crude oil also showed a 2.4 million barrel or 3.6 per cent fall last week at 341.3 million barrels over year-ago levels.

On Wednesday, oil futures touched an intraday record of $75.40 a barrel before settling at $75.19, an all-time closing high on Nymex.

Oil prices in New York have gone up by about 23 per cent this year, partly on concern of a confrontation over Iran's nuclear facilities.