Crude Oil Notches Another Record

A key report on U.S. energy inventories triggers a massive rally.
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Updated from 1:58 p.m. EDT

Crude oil prices spiked again Thursday, as the benchmark U.S. crude regained the $54-a-barrel level and closed at yet another record high.

The November futures contract added $1.12 to $54.76 in regular floor trading on the Nymex and also touched an all-time intraday high of $54.90. Prices have closed at record highs seven times in the past eight sessions.

Weekly inventory data from the Department of Energy -- the release of which was postponed a day until Thursday because of the Columbus Day holiday -- showed an increase in crude levels but a larger-than-expected decline in heating oil stocks, a bullish development as temperatures cool going into winter.

Prices had been under pressure Tuesday and Wednesday following an International Energy Agency report Tuesday forecasting a decline in 2005 global demand, but an afternoon rally Wednesday took prices back to their record closing high of $53.64 set Monday.

Traders continue to worry about short-term supply issues. In Nigeria, some oil workers remain on strike, and U.S. production remains depressed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.