Vancouver: Uranium rose for a third consecutive week as speculators rekindled their interest in the raw material, which is used as nuclear reactor fuel, said TradeTech Llc., a publisher of price assessments.

The metallic element for immediate delivery rose $4 (Rs158), or 5%, to $84 an lb (1lb=0.45kg), Denver, Colorado-based TradeTech said on Saturday in a weekly report. The equivalent of at least 350,000 lb were sold in two transactions, it said.

“Renewed buying interest on the part of speculators and hedge funds is contributing to the upward price pressure," TradeTech said. “However, this demand remains predominantly discretionary."

Purchases by hedge funds and other non-consumers of uranium helped lift the spot price to a record $138 an lb in June, according to TradeTech’s assessment.

The price fell as low as $75 by the end of September as speculators sold to generate cash and some nuclear power operators temporarily withdrew from the market.

“I think we’ll have a continuing strong market, but a more rational market," said E. Peter Farmer, president of Toronto-based Uranium Participation Corp., a speculative buyer of uranium.