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Oil hits $107 after US denial of crude release
Oil rises past $107 a day after US denies plan to release crude supplies
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' Crude oil prices rose Friday, a day after the government denied reports that the U.S. and the U.K. plan to release some of their strategic crude reserves.

In New York trading, benchmark oil for April delivery rose $1.95 a barrel, or about 2 percent, to finish at $107.06, the biggest gain since Feb. 24.

Brent crude for May delivery rose $3.21, or 2.6 percent, to end at $125.81 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The oil markets were still reacting to reports a day earlier that the U.S. and the U.K. planned to release some of their strategic crude reserves. Although the White House denied the reports, independent analyst Andrew Lipow said traders were left to worry that Western nations are preparing for a prolonged standoff with Iran over its nuclear program.

"What do they know that they're not telling?" Lipow said.

Tensions with Iran, and the threat to oil supplies in the Middle East, are a big reason that oil has risen about 7 percent since Jan. 1 and almost 15 percent since October.

In other energy trading, natural gas, which is trading at prices not seen since 2002, rose 4.7 cents to finish at $2.326 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 5.94 cents to end at $3.2819 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 6.84 cents to finish at $3.3569 per gallon.

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