LONDON Oil's rally to record price highs has
sparked a rush of bets on just how far it can go -- from
workers in London's East End to Manhattan industry gurus.
"They're usually well-to-do customers, and they generally
bet the market will go up, we've seen an increase lately," said
Jos Evans, a trader at IG Index, an online betting company.
Away from the glass towers of financial districts punters
are just as keen.
"I'd put 100 pounds that oil will go up because America has
a shortage," said Londoner Jeff Hicks, a self-styled unemployed
entrepreneur in an East End betting shop. "The U.S. wouldn't
have invaded Iraq if they weren't short of oil."
U.S. oil prices hit a record $96 on Thursday following a
slump in inventories and a Federal Reserve interest rate cut.
Industry insider and writer on oil Matthew Simmons bet
$5,000 with a New York Times columnist that oil prices would
reach $200 in 2010.
Simmons calculates that $65 a barrel translates to 10 cents
a cup, still 10 times cheaper than bottled water
Others use less refined analysis.
"I'd bet on oil going up because governments are crap and
refineries get on fire," said Charlie Ryan, a gas worker
spending his evening at a betting shop in London's gritty Mile
The odds of oil prices hitting the $100 mark by Christmas
day are 13-8, according to bookmaker Cantor Index.
That is similar to the odds of Mikkel Kessler dethroning
long reigning Super Middleweight Boxing Champion Joe Calzaghe
this weekend, in what is expected to be a tight contest,
according to Cantor.
Not everybody is enjoying the oil rally. Behind the counter
at a betting shop in Hackney, one of London's poorest boroughs,
the mood was glum.
"It's a bad business," a bookie said. "It's guaranteed that
oil prices will go up."