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Oil climbs on US economic optimism

Bloomberg News / March 18, 2009
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NEW YORK - Crude oil rose to a three-month high on optimism about the US economy after a report showed that housing starts in the world's biggest energy-consuming country surged in February.

Oil prices have plunged from a record $147.27 in July as the United States, Europe, and Japan face recessions. Gasoline and heating oil futures prices surged, with the motor fuel reaching the highest in four months.

"There's a feeling that maybe the economy has hit the bottom," said Chip Hodge, a managing director at MFC Global Investment Management in Boston, who oversees a $9 billion natural-resource-company bond portfolio. "For the first time in a while we aren't looking at mostly negative headlines."

Crude oil for April delivery rose $1.81 to $49.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Dec. 1. Futures touched $49.82, the highest intraday price since Jan. 6

Gasoline futures for April delivery climbed 5.65 cents to $1.4238 a gallon in New York, the highest settlement since Nov. 5. Heating oil for April delivery gained 6.17 cents to end the session at $1.2747 a gallon, the highest since Feb. 26.

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