Northern Hemisphere Freeze Boosts Oil, Hurts Crops

Crude oil traded near its highest level in 14 months, citrus growers in Florida fought to protect their crops and Beijing had its coldest morning for almost four decades as winter weather gripped China, Europe and the U.S.

“The weather is cold everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, with Europe getting walloped and China as well,” said Anthony Nunan, an assistant general manager for risk management at Mitsubishi Corp. in Tokyo. predicted the worst U.S. winter in 25 years.

Crude oil traded at $81.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, near the $81.77 settlement yesterday, which was the highest since October 2008. Aluminum for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange gained as much as 1.1 percent to $2,328 a ton, the highest price since Oct. 14, 2008. The bad weather in China is raising concerns of power shortages and delivery problems.

Temperatures in the U.S. Northeast, the area responsible for four-fifths of the country’s heating-oil use, are forecast to remain below normal through Jan. 15, according to the National Weather Service.