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By Javier Blas and Izabella Kaminska in London
July 2 2009
The startling spike in oil prices to their highest level this year on
Tuesday was caused by a rogue broker who placed a massive bet in the
Brent oil market, triggering almost $10m (=E2=82=AC7m) of losses for his
PVM Oil Associates, the world=E2=80=99s largest over-the-counter oil brokerage,
said on Thursday it had been the =E2=80=9Cvictim of unauthorised trading=E2=80=9D. The
privately owned company said that as a result of the unauthorised trades
it had been forced to close substantial volumes of futures contracts at
London-based PVM said it had informed the Financial Services Authority,
the UK regulator. But officials at the Commodity Futures Trading
Commission, the US regulator, claimed they had been kept in the dark for
several hours in spite of an agreement between the watchdogs last year
to exchange such market-sensitive information spontaneously.
Oil traders in London and New York said the =E2=80=9Cunauthorised trading=E2=80=9D
explained the exceptional spike in business activity and prices in the
early hours of Tuesday that some initially thought must have been caused
by a geopolitical event. =E2=80=9CTrading volumes rose overnight and prices
jumped more than $2 a barrel without apparent justification,=E2=80=9D a senior
oil trader in New York said.
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