Pablo Gorondi
Associated Press
June 3, 2008

Oil prices briefly soared to a record near $146 a barrel Thursday, then eased when the European Central Bank did not signal more rate hikes and a report showed unemployment in the United States has continued to climb.

Earlier in the session, prices were lifted to new highs by concerns over a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. oil stockpiles, the threat of violent conflict with Iran and comments by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister suggesting his country would not boost production.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery rose 2 cents to $143.59 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the session, it rose as high as $145.85 a barrel, a new trading record.

On Wednesday, the contract set a new closing record for floor trade at $143.57 — a full $2.60 above the previous close.

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