Oil prices rise on US, European economic news

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Oil prices rose Friday on encouraging economic news from the U.S. and Europe, raising hopes for stronger demand in the months to come.

Benchmark crude rose $1.33 to finish the day at $87.40 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price many international kinds of oil, fell 20 cents to end at $109.56 per barrel in London.

Benchmark crude prices rose as European finance ministers approved the next round of bailout loans for Greece, which should head off a disastrous default that could impact other countries in the region and slow their economies.

In the U.S., the government said jobless rates fell in half of the states last month as hiring picked up. That pointed to rising demand for oil and gas as unemployment lines shrink.

On Wall Street, stocks surged following strong earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average was up more than 220 points, or 2 percent, in afternoon trading.

At the pump, gasoline prices fell less than a penny Friday to a national average of $3.468 per gallon. Pump prices are about 64 cents higher than a year ago. Drivers in the West and the Northeast are paying the highest prices for gas. Prices are lowest in the South.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell 1.26 cents to finish at $3.0175 a gallon. Gasoline futures rose about a penny to end at $2.6846 a gallon. Natural gas was virtually unchanged at $3.6290 per thousand cubic feet.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.



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