New Zealand petrol prices fell yesterday as world oil prices
reached a four-month high, suggesting that relief for
motorists will be short-lived.
Oil rose after United States builders broke ground on more
houses than forecast and jobless claims dropped to a
five-year low, bolstering optimism for the US economy.
New Zealand-owned Z Energy and BP were the first to drop
their prices to $2.09 for regular petrol and $2.17 for
premium. Z Energy said it was able to decrease its prices as
the cost of refined petrol and diesel on the international
market had eased and the New Zealand dollar remained strong.
BP communications manager Jonty Mills said that so far this
year, there had been a steady decline in the cost of refined
products, coupled with small but steady strengthening of the
New Zealand dollar overall.
''This has brought us to the point of being able to pass on
the benefits today, so hopefully those customers that are
still in holiday mode can take advantage.''
Falling oil prices across most markets during the past week
and accelerating inflation in China were also contributing
Inflation in China would likely see tightening of monetary
policy which, while curbing inflation, would also curb demand
and that had flowed through to market numbers. US debt talks
were also putting uncertainty in the markets, Mr Mills said.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March climbed US73c
(NZ87c) to $US110.41 ($NZ131.82) a barrel in late trading.
The New York Mercantile Exchange's main contract, light sweet
crude for February, gained $US1.05 to $US95.29 a barrel.
Oil analysts told Reuters the rise in crude prices was
supported by unrest in north Africa following an attack by
Islamist militants on an Algerian gas field and the fighting
in neighbouring Mali.
Craigs Investment Partners broker Chris Timms said the
primary reason for the oil market moves was improving
economic conditions in the US.
''The news from Algeria may be adding to the rally because of
increasing fears about threats to energy facilities.''