Violence drives oil prices over $78 a barrel

Oil prices continued trading above US $78 per barrel Friday as continuing violence in the Middle East raised concerns of a possible disruption of oil supply. "We are certainly in uncharted territory," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. "I wouldn't be surprised if $80 is attained soon with this slew of geopolitical events in a tight market." Light sweet crude for August delivery was up $1.40 to $78.10 in midmorning Asian trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price closed Thursday at a new high of $76.70 a barrel, then continued climbing in after-hours electronic trading, when volumes are significantly lower, to $78.35.