Oil Crosses $117, Then Pulls Back

Reformulated gasoline futures lose a penny to $2.98 a gallon.
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Crude futures crossed the $117-a-barrel level for the first time ever in overnight trading, moving as high as $117.60 before retreating Monday.

West Texas crude for May delivery recently fell 25 cents to $116.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude lost 26 cents to $113.66 a barrel. Reformulated gasoline slipped a penny to $2.98 a gallon, and heating oil edged fractionally higher to $3.29 a gallon.

Near-term natural gas fell 2 cents to $10.57 per million British thermal units.

The volatile overnight session was sparked by news that a Nigerian rebel group attacked two more oil pipelines in Nigeria's southern delta region. The report has not yet been confirmed by any oil companies operating there.

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Last week, the group, called MEND, attacked an oil pipeline owned by

Royal Dutch Shell

(RDS.A)

that transports 160,000 barrels of oil a day.

The overnight advance in the price of crude was also supported by another decline in the value of the U.S. dollar. The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the performance of the greenback against a basket of international currencies, fell 0.4% to 71.66. The price of oil tends to rise when the dollar falls because oil is denominated in U.S. dollars in international markets.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia's oil minister reiterated OPEC's position that increasing production would not reduce oil prices, saying that "oil prices have become divorced from market fundamentals and any increase in production would 'be flooding the market.'"

Meanwhile, energy stocks were moving higher.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

climbed 0.7% to $84.50 a share.

BP

(BP) - Get Report

rose 0.6% to $68.60, and

Hess

(HES) - Get Report

moved 2% higher to $107.32.

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

edged up 0.2% to $94.22.