Crude oil soared to a record $35 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, even though there were few notable developments in the Persian Gulf crisis, as traders squared accounts on an expiring delivery contract.

The benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery zoomed $1.53 Thursday to end the day at $34.71 a barrel, after having traded as high as $35.The closing price broke the $33.63 record set Monday, when West Texas Intermediate roared past the previous Merc all-time record closing price of $32.20 a barrel.

Thursday was the Merc's final day of trading in the October contract, and prices were driven up as traders squared an unusually large number of "open-interest" buy positions, said Michael McDermott of PaineWebber Inc. in New York.

The world's largest oil exchange starts trading the November-delivery contract as its spot-month contract Friday. The November contract rose 45 cents Thursday to close at $33.42 a barrel.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have pledged to draw up an aid package for countries hurt by the Persian Gulf crisis and sharply higher oil prices.

World Bank President Barber Conable said Thursday the bank would coordinate with the IMF in the financing package that will include a multilateral pool of funds that could help offset the economic misery caused by the crisis, particularly in the frontline states of Jordon, Turkey and Egypt.

At the same time, they are assessing the damage that the jump in oil prices and the loss of income that workers in the region had sent home to their countries from the gulf was having around the world.