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Oil price again flirting with $100 per barrel

NEW YORK — Oil prices climbed to near $100 per barrel Tuesday following a series of positive reports about the U.S. economy.

In midday trading benchmark crude rose 36 cents to $98.50 per barrel in New York. Crude jumped as high as $99.34 at one point. Brent crude, which is used to price many foreign oil varieties, rose 45 cents to $112.34 per barrel in London.

Prices jumped after the U.S. said that consumer spending rose in October for the fifth straight month. Spending increased for electronics, appliances, hardware and building supplies. Sales also rose at grocery stores, bars and restaurants and health care stores. Inflation eased last month, as companies paid less for gas, new cars and other goods.

The European Union also said that the 17-nation bloc avoided contracting in the third quarter. The eurozone economy grew by 0.2 percent in the July-September period. However, it’s still expected to fall into recession as countries like Italy and Greece cut spending to reduce debt.

In other energy trading, heating oil was essentially flat at $3.1562 per gallon, and gasoline futures rose 3 cents to $2.5678 per gallon. Natural gas fell 2 cents to $3.582 per 1,000 cubic feet.