Business briefs: Oil back above $100 on China data, OPEC outlook

February 13, 2014 

Oil back above $100 on China data, OPEC outlook

The price of oil rose above $100 a barrel Wednesday as OPEC predicted faster growth in oil demand this year and China reported record imports of crude oil. The gains were tempered by an increase in U.S. supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery rose 43 cents to $100.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil rose as high as $101.38 in morning trading.

Oil prices were boosted by data showing that China's imports of crude rose to 6.6 million barrels a day in January, up nearly 12 percent from the same month last year and the highest figure on record. Meanwhile, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said global oil consumption should rise by 1.09 million barrels a day, an increase of 45,000 barrels a day from OPEC's previous prediction.

In the United States, the Energy Department said oil supplies rose 3.3 million barrels last week, more than the 2.5 million barrel rise expected by analysts surveyed by Platts.

Senators question FDA over hydrocodone painkiller

WASHINGTON -- Three U.S. senators are raising concerns about the Food and Drug Administration's approval of a powerful painkiller called Zohydro, which experts say could add to the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

Republicans Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee sent a letter to the head of the FDA Wednesday asking how the agency will prevent misuse and abuse of Zohydro and similar drugs in development.

The FDA approved Zohydro from Zogenix Inc. in October, making it the first single-ingredient hydrocodone drug ever cleared for U.S. patients. The pill is significantly more potent than currently available hydrocodone combination pills.

The approval surprised many doctors, since an FDA advisory panel voted overwhelmingly against the drug.

Panama Canal chief reports progress in dispute

PANAMA CITY -- Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano said Wednesday the agency has reached tentative agreement with contractors on some of the issues that have stalled work on the biggest expansion of the waterway in a century.

But Quijano also told a meeting of Panama's Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the Panama Canal Authority might take over the project if no final agreement is reached this week.

The canal chief said he spoke by telephone Tuesday with executives from Grupos Unidos por el Canal, the consortium led by Spain's Sacyr SA and Italy's Salini Impreglio SpA. It has been seeking to have the canal authority pay for $1.6 billion in cost overruns on what had been planned as a $3.1 billion chunk of the canal project.

The canal authority and the construction consortium blame each other for the overruns.

-- Herald wire report

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