Oil rises toward $104 as Obama cancels Asia trip

Oil rises toward $104 as partial shutdown of US government continues; Obama cancels Asia trip

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- The price of oil rose Friday as President Barack Obama's cancellation of his Asia trip indicated negotiations are intensifying in Washington to end a budget impasse that threatens to damage the economy.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 25 cents to $103.56 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 79 cents to close at $103.31 on Thursday.

A partial shutdown of the U.S. government went into effect earlier this week after lawmakers, bitterly divided over President Barack Obama's health care program, failed to agree on legislation to pay the country's bills past Monday, the end of the fiscal year.

That forced the government to shut down nonessential services and stand down 800,000 federal employees. The shutdown entered its fourth day Friday with no end in sight. However, Obama late Thursday announced he was cancelling a trip to Asia, a sign that negotiations to end the budget standoff may be intensifying.

A prolonged halt to government activities would reduce demand for energy and result in lower prices of fuels such as gasoline. That would be a boon for drivers but also signal a weak economy.

U.S. crude prices have traded at their lowest levels in nearly two weeks as the U.S. government "shutdown fuels concerns of slowing economic growth," said Alex Young of CMC Markets in an email commentary.

Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, rose 22 cents to $109.22 in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.3 cent to $2.637 per gallon.

— Natural gas rose 1.4 cents to $3.513 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil rose 0.9 cent to $3.012 per gallon.

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