Business briefs 10/17/07

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oil futures top $88 a barrel, a record

NEW YORK -- Oil futures rallied to a record of more than $88 a barrel Tuesday on concerns about disruptions to Middle Eastern crude supplies and a growing view that domestic supplies aren't sufficient to meet fourth-quarter demand. Traders are concerned that a Turkish incursion into Iraq in search of Kurdish rebels could disrupt crude supplies from northern Iraq. On Tuesday, Turkey's prime minister said Monday's decision to ask Parliament for permission to pursue the rebels was not a sign Turkish forces will act immediately. The Middle East tensions add to supply concerns that have been stoked in recent days by reports suggesting oil supplies are flat or falling as demand is growing.

Housing sentiment index reaches 22-year low

WASHINGTON -- Homebuilders are getting gloomier about the slumping housing market, as a 22-year-old index that tracks their sentiment set a new record low Tuesday. The National Association of Home Builders said its housing market index, which tracks builders' perceptions of conditions and expectations for home sales over the next six months, fell two points to 18 in October, the lowest level since the index began in 1985. It was the eighth straight monthly decline. The consensus forecast of economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR was for a reading of 19. Index readings higher than 50 indicate positive sentiment. The seasonally adjusted index has been below 50 since May 2006.

-- From wire reports

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