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The Journal Gazette

Monday, December 31, 2012 3:56 pm

Oil rises as 'cliff' consensus appears close

By The Associated Press

Oil prices rose Monday as U.S. political leaders moved toward averting the "fiscal cliff" just hours before the deadline.

President Barack Obama said Monday afternoon that a deal to avert the cliff - a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect starting Tuesday - was in sight but not yet finalized.

Republicans and Democrats are still at an impasse over whether to put off across-the-board spending cuts and, if so, how to pay for that. There's a midnight deadline to reach a deal.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.02 to finish at $91.82 per barrel in New York. Oil has wavered in recent weeks along with the ups and downs of the budget negotiations. The price of oil finished December up about 3 percent from the start of the month. It ranged from a low near $77 a barrel to high around $110 a barrel during the year.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 49 cents to end at $111.11 a barrel.

The national average for gasoline was at $3.29 per gallon Monday, well under the average of nearly $3.40 a month ago but 2 cents higher than a year ago.

In other energy futures trading:

Natural gas fell 12 cents, or 3.4 percent, to finish at $3.35 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.81 a gallon.

Heating oil was flat at $3.05 a gallon.