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Oil Prices Are Up
Sunday, December 29th, 2013 -- 6:48 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

Oil prices inched closer to $100 a barrel Friday, supported by a fall in applications for unemployment benefits and expectations of a decline in U.S. crude stockpiles.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery was up 12 cents to $99.67 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the Nymex contract added 33 cents to close at $99.55 a barrel.

Oil prices gained nearly 3 percent last week as optimism about the U.S. economic recovery lifted expectations for the country's energy demand .
That optimism was also sustained by Thursday's data from the Labor Department, which said that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 42,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 338,000, the biggest fall since November 2012.

Even though that was a better figure than expected, economists noted that data from late November and December is warped by seasonal volatility due to the holidays .

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