Oil rises as 'cliff' consensus appears close

AP News
Posted: Dec 31, 2012 3:56 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — 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.