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12

Crude Prices Stay High on Storm Fear

A winter storm forecast for the northeastern part of the United States lifted oil prices

A winter storm forecast for the northeastern part of the United States lifted oil prices Monday and revived fear of a harsh winter stretching heating fuel supplies.

Unusually mild weather in the northern hemisphere so far this month has given refiners more time to build stocks ahead of the winter months, when demand for crucial heating fuel is expected tosurge.

The milder weather and rising stockpiles contributed to low NewYork crude futures on Friday ending at 56.14 dollars a barrel, the contract's lowest finish since June 15.

But analysts remain mixed on whether global production capacity can keep pace with an expected rise in heating oil demand this winter, particularly with forecasts for an approaching cold front that could hammer the northeastern United States, one of the world's key energy markets.

US light, sweet crude for January delivery rose 59 cents to $57.80 a barrel in afternoon trading on the NYMEX.

Some analysts feel there is adequate supply to meet rising demand in winter, when consumption of heating oil and natural gas increase. But others say more stocks are needed, especially with forecasters predicting a frigid winter in the Northeast.