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Oil rises as Americans' confidence improves

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil is rising around midday on a report that shows Americans' perception of the economy is improving.

Benchmark crude is up 48 cents to $85.57 around noon EST.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index reveals that Americans feel better about the state of the world's largest economy than any point in the last five years.

Elected officials are also speaking Friday about ways to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a slew of tax increases and spending cuts that would take effect in January. It's believed that a lack of compromise in Washington on reducing the budget deficit would send the fragile economy back into recession.

Meanwhile, AAA says the nationwide average for gasoline fell to $3.456 a gallon, the lowest since July 21.