Oil price again flirting with $100 per barrel

Benchmark oil rises near $100 per barrel on positive signs for US economy

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil prices climbed to near $100 per barrel Tuesday on encouraging news about the U.S. economy.

Benchmark crude rose $1.23 to end the day at $99.37 per barrel in New York. The benchmark price hasn't been that high since July 26. Brent crude, which is used to price many foreign oil varieties, climbed 50 cents to finish at $112.39 per barrel in London.

Prices jumped after the Commerce Department said that retail sales rose in October for the fifth straight month. Consumer spending increased for electronics, appliances, hardware and building supplies. Sales also rose at grocery stores, bars and restaurants and health care stores.

"If people are opening their pocket books again, it's good for the economy. Maybe you'll see gasoline demand go up," said Phil Flynn, an oil analyst at PFGBest.

Inflation also eased last month, as companies paid less for gas, new cars and other goods.

The European Union also said that the 17-nation bloc avoided recession in the third quarter. The eurozone economy grew by 0.2 percent in the July-September period. However, it's still expected to shrink as countries like Italy and Greece cut spending to reduce debt.

A stalled European economy means that world energy demand could drift lower. But analysts say that most oil traders have already priced in the potential for a slowdown in the eurozone.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose less than a penny to end at $3.1713 per gallon, and gasoline futures rose 5.04 cents to finish at $2.5857 per gallon. Natural gas gave up 5.4 cents to finish at $3.4040 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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