Oil prices climb on US, European weather woes

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Oil prices climbed Monday on the expectation of a surge in demand for heating fuel in the face of record low temperatures in Europe and a huge snowstorm in the US northeast.

The London oil market was closed for a holiday but in electronic trade Brent North Sea crude for February delivery rose 26 cents from Friday to 93.72 dollars a barrel.

In electronic deals prior to the opening of the New York Mercantile Exchange a barrel of benchmark "light sweet crude" for February delivery was up 36 cents at 91.15 dollars from Thursday. The market was closed on Friday.

Oil prices last rose above 100 dollars a barrel on October 2, 2008. Prices have firmed considerably in recent days in response to macroeconomic data suggesting that the recovery in the United States, the world's leading energy consumer, was gathering strength.

Prices have risen more than 11 dollars in New York since the start of the year and more than 15 dollars in London.

The spurt on Monday came in response to bitter cold affecting some of the largest energy consumers in Europe, notably France.

In the US northeast, blizzard warnings were issued from coastal New England to New York City, where a massive storm was expected to dump as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of snow, accompanied by powerful wind gusts.

Boston, Massachusetts, was forecast to receive up to 22 inches (55 centimeters) of snow by Monday, with wind gusts as high as 45 miles (72 kilometers) per hour.

Most of the US heating fuel supply is consumed in the northeast.

© 2010 AFP

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