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Oil prices up amid escalating Turkey-Syria tension

BANGKOK (AP) — Oil prices rose Thursday as growing tensions between Turkey and Syria caused worries about the reliability of Middle East crude supplies.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 48 cents to $91.73 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.14 to finish at $91.25 per barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday after some mixed economic signals.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 86 cents to $115.19 on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.

Turkish jets on Wednesday forced a Syrian passenger plane to land at Ankara airport on suspicion that it might be carrying weapons or other military equipment to support the regime of President Bashar Assad in its civil war against Syrian rebels.

Escalating tensions between the two former allies are "one of the things that are keeping oil prices somewhat firm to stronger," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

Many observers fear the civil war in Syria could grow into a wider regional conflict that could threaten oil supplies from Middle East producers. The Middle East and North Africa account for about a third of global oil production.

In other energy trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

— Heating oil rose 2.2 cents to $3.235 per gallon

— Wholesale gasoline was up 0.2 cent at $2.961 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 0.2 cent to $3.477 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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