Oil Tops $103 on Hopes US Will Avoid Debt Default



NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices jumped above $103 a barrel on Thursday on hopes that U.S. political leaders are near a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

U.S. benchmark oil for November delivery rose $1.40, or 1.4 percent, to close at $103.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, reversing much of Wednesday's decline of $1.88 a barrel. Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, rose $2.74, or 2.5 percent, to $111.80 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Facing a fresh deadline, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that Republicans would vote to extend the government's ability to borrow money for six weeks — but only if President Barack Obama first agrees to fresh negotiations on spending cuts. Under the Republican plan, the partial government shutdown would continue in the meantime.

Meanwhile, developments in Libya reminded markets of the risk to supplies from key crude producers in the region. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan was abducted by gunmen from the hotel where he resides, but freed hours later. The event gave an extra boost to Brent, the benchmark for international crudes.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

Natural gas gained 4 cents to $3.72 per 1,000 cubic feet, the highest price since Sept. 19. Forecasts now call for cooler than expected temperatures across a broad region of the middle of the U.S.

Wholesale gasoline jumped 7 cents to $2.70 per gallon.

Heating oil added 5 cents to $3.07 per gallon.

Pablo Gorondi in Budapest and Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Esam Mohammed in Tripoli, Libya, contributed to this report.



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