NEW YORK, June 24 The U.S Federal Trade
Commission has followed the European Union in opening a formal
probe into how crude oil and refined fuel prices are set,
Bloomberg News reported on Monday without naming any sources.
It said the investigation was in a preliminary stage, but
would likely broaden. The FTC is reviewing the progress of
European authorities, and has agreed with the Department of
Justice's antitrust division to handle the probe, Bloomberg
reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.
The FTC has conducted several inquiries into U.S. oil prices
over the past few years, and is often called on to investigate
possible anti-competitive practices when prices surge. However
those investigations have typically been focused on market
fundamentals rather than the mechanics of setting prices.
The probe comes more than a month after European authorities
raided the offices of major oil traders including Royal Dutch
Shell, BP and Statoil to investigate suspected manipulation.
They also visited price publisher Platts, a unit of McGraw-Hill
Financial, whose daily price assessments are widely
used as the benchmark for many global oil markets.