Crude oil prices continue to skyrocket as developments in the Middle East and North Africa continue. Crude oil futures for March delivery closed at $93.57/barrel, the highest price since October 2008. Early Tuesday, the price rose as high as $94.49 in futures trading in New York. Later in the session, crude prices rose again after Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi pledged to die a martyr rather than give in to popular calls to resign.

As oil prices jumped sharply, agricultural commodity traders at the Chicago Board of Trade headed for the sidelines. Massive fund selling sent corn, soybean, wheat and oat prices down the daily limit on Tuesday. Blaine Duxbury, oil market analyst with Country Mark, told HAT that unrest in Libya has been the catalyst for the sharp spike in oil prices, “Libya is a major oil producer, so this situation is impacting the market more than the turmoil in Egypt and other nations.” He said the market is very uncertain, wondering where the unrest will spread, “Nobody knows that is going to happen next.”

Libya produces over 2 million barrels of oil/day, and a slowdown in that production may soon be felt. Duxbury said oil companies in Libya are shutting down and pulling employees out of the country. The market fears that Gadhafi could opt for a “scorched-earth policy” if he’s eventually forced out, according to Phil Flynn, a commodities analyst at PFG Best Research in Chicago.

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