The price of oil rose Wednesday on new concerns about possible supply disruptions in the Middle East after Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza.
Benchmark oil rose 94 cents to finish at $86.32 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose $1.14 to $108.48 per barrel in London.
Israeli leaders said the airstrikes, which killed a Hamas military commander, were the start of a broad operation in response to days of heavy rocket fire from militants in the neighboring Palestinian territory.
Meanwhile global economic issues and the “fiscal cliff” in the U.S. are still in focus. Unless President Barack Obama and Congress reach a compromise, a series of expiring tax cuts and broad spending cuts will take effect in January, seriously impacting the world’s largest economy.
Elsewhere official figures showed industrial production dropped 2.5 percent in September in the 17 countries that use the euro as currency. It was the largest monthly decline since January 2009.
Slower economic growth means less demand for energy products such as gasoline, heating oil and natural gas.
“The market is really kind of torn right now on the next direction,” Price Futures Group oil analyst Phil Flynn said. “Everyone is waiting around to see if we’re going to go over the `fiscal cliff.”’
At the pump, the national average for gasoline was virtually unchanged at $3.44 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That’s about 34 cents less than a month ago and nearly 3 cents more than a year ago.
Among other energy futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
n Heating oil rose 2.74 cents to end at $2.9882 per gallon.
n Gasoline futures rose 2.52 cents to end at $2.679 per gallon.
n Natural gas rose 2.1 cents to end at $3.76 per 1,000 cubic feet.