Oil Blows Past $81

Natural gas falls, but gasoline rises.
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Oil prices continued their climb and collected another record Tuesday, finishing New York trading at better than $81 a barrel for the first time ever.

Crude for October delivery rose 94 cents to $81.51, a gain of more than 1%. In extended electronic action, the contract surpassed $82. Reformulated gasoline tacked on just under 2 cents to $2.06 a gallon. Heating oil was up 1 cent to $2.24 a gallon.

Near-term natural gas sat out the advance, slipping 8 cents to $6.57 per million British thermal units.

Crude futures bounced early in the session as traders anticipated a

Federal Reserve

rate cut, and they got it late in the day, when the central bank lowered its fed funds target by 50 basis points to 4.75%.

A rate reduction could act as a jolt of energy for the economy, increasing demand for crude oil in the process.

Meanwhile, energy stocks ended higher.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

gained 3.6% to $87.79, and

Hess

(HES) - Get Report

was up 4.1% to $66.01.

Total

(TOT) - Get Report

jumped 3.9% to $80.43.

Among ratings changes,

Enbridge

(ENB) - Get Report

was upgraded by CIBC World Markets to sector outperform from sector perform, lifting its shares 2.7% to $35.64.

Cameron International

(CAM)

was downgraded by Wachovia to market perform from outperform, but it still rose 2.1% to $90.34.