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Crude Oil Hits $100

Futures briefly reach the century mark before pulling back slightly.

Updated from 12:36 p.m. EST

Crude oil finally touched the long-awaited century mark Wednesday, briefly reaching $100 a barrel in New York before pulling back slightly.

Ultimately, February oil futures jumped $3.64 to settle at $99.62 a barrel, a record close, and were up nearly 4% on the session. Previously, crude hit an all-time intraday high of $99.29 a barrel in late November.

Driving the latest advance were worries about the most recent violence in Nigeria, where rebels launched an attack earlier this week, leading to concerns about the safety of supplies from the oil-producing nation.

Oil: To $100 and Beyond

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Another factor was the expectation that the weekly inventories report from the Energy Department, due Thursday, will show a decline in petroleum stores. Throw in a drop in the U.S. dollar and the rally was on.

Oil stocks were mixed.

Exxon Mobil

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was down 0.2% at $93.51, and

Chevron

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gained 0.1% to $93.46.

ConocoPhillips

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slipped 0.5% at $87.89.

Among services names,

Schlumberger

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rose 2.3%, and

Halliburton

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was up 2.1%.

The Amex Oil Index tacked on 0.2%, but the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index surged 2.2%. The natural gas index climbed 1.3%.

Elsewhere in the energy complex, gasoline added almost 8 cents to $2.57 a gallon, and heating oil was up 9 cents to $2.74 a gallon. Natural gas was better by 37 cents to $7.85 per million British thermal units.