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Oil rises after attack on US Consulate in Libya

BANGKOK--Oil traded above US$97 a barrel Thursday in Asia after an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya and the killing of the U.S. ambassador there sparked new worries about unrest in the Middle East.

Benchmark crude was up 4 U.S. cents at US$97.05 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 16 cents Wednesday to end at US$97.01 per barrel in New York.

Brent crude was down 8 cents at US$115.25 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.

In other trading on the Nymex, heating oil fell 0.4 cents to US$3.211 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline dropped 1.2 cents to US$2.989 per gallon. Natural gas fell 0.6 cents to US$3.057 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died after an attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi on Tuesday. The attack in Libya came hours after a mob stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down the U.S. flag.

Officials were investigating whether the rampage was a backlash to an anti-Islamic video with ties to Coptic Christians or a plot to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S.

Oil analyst Stephen Schork said in an email commentary that he expects “the fundamental picture to be overtaken by the powder keg that was ignited yesterday in Libya ... we will be keeping a close eye on tension in the region.”

Traders were also awaiting the end of a two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting at which central bankers were widely expected to announce new steps to help the flagging U.S. economy.

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