Commodity Online

NEW YORK: World oil prices fell sharply on Monday as traders hunted down profits with which to close their books and on signs that a US report would show inventories rose again since the last three months.

May crude oil was down $US4.51 a barrel to $US101.11 at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude for May settlement fell $US3.47, or 3.3%, to settle at $US100.30 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. Futures reached a record $US108.02 a barrel on March 14.

Crude oil supplies increased by 2.25 million barrels in the week ended March 28, according to the median of responses by 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News before the Energy Department releases its weekly inventory data on April 2.

Futures prices rose to a record $US111.80 a barrel on March 17 in New York as investors purchased commodities in response to the plunging US dollar. The currency's fall spurred interest in energy and metals as an inflation hedge.

Gasoline for April delivery fell 10.07 cents, or 3.7%, to close at $US2.6163 a gallon in New York. Futures touched $US2.7752 on March 26, an intraday record for gasoline to be blended with ethanol, known as RBOB, which began trading in October 2005.

The April gasoline contract expired today. The more active May futures contract fell 8.64 cents, or 3.2%, to $US2.6271 a gallon.