U.S. News

Oil Rises Near $61 a Barrel


The World Bank's private
sector arm and Merrill Lynch Mortgage Capital Inc. said on
Tuesday they signed a $100-million equivalent revolving line of
credit with Mexico's Metrofinanciera S.A. de C.V.
    The financing aims to help fund mortgage loans for low- to
middle-income home buyers, diversify Metrofinanciera's funding
sources, and maintain its securitization programs in capital
markets, the International Finance Corp. said.
    The deal comes one month after the Inter-American
Development Bank approved $105 million in partial guarantees
for Metrofinanciera.
    This latest agreement will see the IFC and Merrill Lynch
each provide the peso equivalent of $50 million, the IFC said.
    "We believe there is great potential in the Mexican
mortgage market and are pleased that with this transaction we
are able to further our involvement in this growth sector,"
Merrill Lynch Managing Director Jim Cason said.
    The investment is part of a trend among Washington-based
multilateral lenders to help emerging markets develop their
domestic capital markets through mortgage financing -- the main
source of collateral for most small- to medium-sized
    An IFC conference with housing finance experts from around
the world in March found that a burgeoning number of emerging
markets, including South Africa, are nearing the point where
mortgage demand will be so strong they will need to turn to
bonds and funds for financing.
    The IFC made $5.1 billion in mortgage loans from 1982 to
2003 and has likely doubled that amount between 2003 and the
end of 2005, a World Bank economist told the March conference.

LONDON - Oil rose near $61 on Tuesday,
adding to sharp gains the previous session, on expectations that
a cold spell in the U.S. Northeast this weekend would boost
demand in the world's biggest heating oil market.
    U.S. crude climbed 43 cents to $60.75 a barrel after settling up $1.08 on Monday. London Brent crude rose 53 cents to $60.97.
    Despite the rally, oil remained stuck in a two-month trading
rut of $58-$62 a barrel and showed few signs of resuming a climb
back toward a record high of $78.40 a barrel hit in mid-July.
    "We still expect oil prices to remain in a mid-fifties to
low-sixties band for now," Tobin Gorey, commodity strategist at
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said.
    "Sustained colder weather is the most likely reason for it
to break through the high side."
    Private forecaster AccuWeather said on Monday cold weather
would sweep into the U.S. East Coast by the weekend, ending a
stretch of above-normal temperatures that has curbed demand.
    The National Weather Service said on Monday U.S. heating
demand this week would be about 24% below normal.
    NYMEX heating oil futures rose 0.6% on
    The market also found support from a weaker dollar, which
traded near a 20-month low against the euro.
    "Oil's short-term rise is mainly fueled by the weakness in
the dollar, which has triggered speculative buying in the
broader commodity sector," said Frederic Lassere of SG CIB
    China's top energy official said on Tuesday China aimed to
fill its strategic reserves during price dips. Pent up Chinese
demand to build these reserves is helping to underpin prices.
    "When international oil prices come down, we will store some
(oil)," Chen Deming, vice chairman of the energy policy-setting
National Development and Reform Commission said.
    The market is also looking ahead to an OPEC meeting on Dec.
14 that could result in a further output cut. OPEC agreed at an
emergency meeting in October to remove 1.2 million barrels per
day from oversupplied markets.