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Oil Briefly Gets Above $60

Crude futures close up 18 cents to $59.89 per barrel.

Updated from 1:41 p.m. EST

Crude oil futures climbed again on Friday, piercing through the psychologically significant $60 level for the first time in weeks before edging back.

After climbing as high as $60.46 in the early afternoon, crude oil withdrew slightly, closing at the end of normal Nymex trading hours up 18 cents to $59.89 per barrel. Heating oil finished even on the day at $1.725. Gasoline was 2 cents higher at $1.61.

Natural gas slipped 4 cents, closing at $7.83 per million British thermal units. Cold temperatures in the northeastern U.S. continue to hold natural gas prices at their highest levels since mid-December.

The action in the crude and distillates markets follows on the heels of a dramatic close to Thursday's trading session, when the near-term crude oil contract jumped $2 to close at $59.71.

Fears of accelerating hostilities with Iran and their potential effects on oil supplies are keeping the price of crude and distillates elevated, says James Williams, energy economist at WTRG Economics in London, Ark.

Also causing concern for energy traders was a fire at

Occidental Petroleum's

(OXY) - Get Occidental Petroleum Corporation Report

field in Elk Hills, Calif. The fire required that most of the wells in the field be shut in, allowing the company to declare

force majeure

and suspend contractual deliveries of oil and gas.

The field produces 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day to the California energy market. Shares of Occidental finished down 1.5% at $46.52.

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Major oil stocks were mostly lower on the day.

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report

was down 24 cents at $75.22, and

Royal Dutch Shell


was off 1.8% at $66.53.


(CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report

finished 43 cents lower at $73.32.


(COP) - Get ConocoPhillips Report

closed the day fractionally higher.