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Policy: Economy

Oil rises on US housing data, Ukraine tensions

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News,Business,Economy,Oil

The price of oil rose past $102 a barrel Friday on strong U.S. construction activity and increased tensions in Ukraine.

Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery rose 52 cents to close at $102.02 a barrel in New York. Oil gained 2 percent for the week.

Brent crude for July delivery, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose 60 cents to $109.75 in London. The Brent crude June contract expired Thursday.

The Commerce Department said Friday that U.S. housing construction surged to its highest pace in six months, which could signal higher demand for gasoline, diesel, and the crude oil needed to make those fuels.

U.S. economic data this week was mixed, however. The Federal Reserve said Thursday that industrial activity slowed in April, and the Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales were weak in April.

Crude prices were pushed higher, though, by signs of increased demand in the U.S. and around the world. The Energy Department reported surprisingly high demand for gasoline this week, and the Paris-based International Energy Agency increased its prediction for global crude demand.

Tensions in Ukraine continue to hang over the oil market. Traders worry that the conflict could bring new sanctions by the West that could keep Russian oil and gas from world markets.

In the U.S., the average retail price of gasoline rose less than a penny to $3.65 per gallon. That's the same as it was a month ago, and five cents cheaper than last year at this time.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to close at $2.974 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 5.6 cents to close at $4.413 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil rose 0.3 cent to close at $2.954 a gallon.

AP Writer Pablo Gorondi contributed to that story from Budapest.

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