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Oil posts slight gain; gasoline up to $3.33

Benchmark oil rose 29 cents to $96.24 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Associated Press

1/25/2013

The price of oil rose Friday afternoon as traders brushed off a report that showed sales of new homes in the U.S. cooled in December.

Benchmark oil rose 29 cents to $96.24 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell as much as 50 cents following the release of the housing data.

The Commerce Department said new-home sales fell 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That's down from November's rate, which was the fastest in 2 ½ years. Still, sales for the entire year were the best since 2009.

Oil prices are being supported by investors' confident mood, reflected by rising indexes in global stock markets and gains by the euro against the dollar.

A weaker dollar makes crude cheaper — and a more attractive investment — for traders using other currencies. On Friday, the euro was up at $1.3460 from $1.3378 late Thursday in New York.

A batch of mostly positive earnings reports from Corporate America has buoyed U.S. stock markets. The S&P 500 broke through 1,500 Thursday for the first time since December 2007.

In the U.S., the average price at the gas pump rose a penny to $3.33 a gallon, up 4 cents from a week ago.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, gained 32 cents to $113.60 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.89 per gallon.

— Natural gas rose 3 cents to $3.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil fell 2 cents to $3.06 a gallon.

Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.

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