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Oil unsteady as huge storm pounds coast of Northeastern United States

BANGKOK--Oil prices were unsteady Tuesday while a massive storm was pounding the heavily populated U.S. East Coast, reducing demand for fuel by keeping drivers off roads, closing businesses and silencing activity in New York City and other metropolitan areas.

Benchmark oil for December delivery edged 12 cents higher in late afternoon Bangkok time to US$85.66 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Crude oil prices fell 74 cents, or 1.3 percent, to finish at US$85.54 a barrel Monday. The Nymex was closed for the day because of the storm, but electronic trading continued.

The biggest refineries in the northeastern United States shut down or throttled back sharply on Monday as the storm came ashore into New Jersey and hurled seawater at New York City, closing U.S. financial markets.

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