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Oil Spikes on Israel, Gaza: Market Bits


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Crude oil prices continued to receive support from unrest in the Middle East and North Africa regions.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for May delivery rose 1.9% to $105.02 a barrel.

Oil price support was provided as allied military action against pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya continued -- though the fighting is expected to subside over the coming days -- and amid the exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza. The support came as the Japanese government approved the release of an additional 22 days worth of oil reserves to aid areas of the country damaged by the tsunami and earthquake.

Oil and gas stocks were trading in mixed territory, with Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) up 1.1%, Petrobras Argentina (PZE) down 0.8% and Marathon Oil (MRO) down 1.4%. Total S.A. (TOT) was rising 0.1%.

Hess (HES) was falling 0.2%, while Murphy Oil (MUR) was flat at $71.21. Exxon (XOM) fell 0.3%.

Grain prices ended the session lower amid technical profit-taking on a lack of fresh fundamental data.

MaxYield Cooperative Karl Setzer, CTA Grain Solutions Team Leader said the action began last night and carried over into Tuesday's trading session.

Corn for May delivery fell 0.3% to $6.84 1/2 a bushel as China denied purchasing U.S. corn. "Maps were released this morning that call for an abnormally cool spring across much of the Western Corn Belt," Setzer noted. "In all reality, this may actually be a benefit. The slower we see temperatures rise this spring, the lower the possibility of flooding ... soybeans being pressured today by thoughts we may see an increase to acres of that oilseed if we have delays to corn planting. "

Soybeans for May delivery fell 0.07% to $13.62 a bushel.

Cotton prices rebounded Tuesday on forecasts of heavy rain in Australia, settling up 7 cents -- the exchange-imposed limit on daily trading.

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