Updated from 2:53 p.m.
Crude oil prices broke a 14-year record Wednesday, hitting $40.77 a barrel after a government report showing a drop in gasoline inventories added to market concerns about supply.
The benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery settled 71 cents, or 1.8%, higher at the close of regular floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, above the record close of $40.42 a barrel set on Oct. 11, 1990, after Iraq had invaded and occupied Kuwait.
In the past week, prices have repeatedly closed at their highest level in almost 14 years on supply worries, which have been complicated by security concerns in the Middle East.
"You've got a lot of people worried about the situation in the Middle East and big producing countries," said Lysle Brinker, an analyst at John S. Herold. "Things are also tight at refineries in the U.S., and that's causing people to wonder about supplies for the months and years ahead. It's creating sort of a blowup in oil prices."
Gasoline futures also rose to an all-time high, gaining almost 5 cents, or 3.8%, to $1.372 a gallon. Wholesale prices have climbed sharply since April 21, when they were at $1.13 a gallon.
Earlier today, the Department of Energy's weekly report showed that gasoline inventories fell 1.5 million barrels in the week ended May 7 to 202.5 million barrels.
The resumption of the spring rally follows a modest selloff Monday after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said that when OPEC meets on June 3, it should raise its production target by at least 1.5 million barrels per day, or about 6%, from its current production rate of 23.5 million.
"The Saudi initiative doesn't seem to have done much," Brinker said. "People are taking sort of a show-me-the-barrels approach."