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Oil price rises as Lebanon car bombing sparks fears of wider Middle East unrest

Oil prices rose Monday after violence in Lebanon sparked fears of wider unrest in the Middle East.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 63 cents to $90.68 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.05 to end at $90.05 per barrel on Friday.

Brent crude rose 59 cents to $110.73 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Fears of instability in the Middle East flared anew Friday, when Lebanon's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, was assassinated in a massive car bombing. He was a powerful opponent of Syria, which for decades has wielded political and military influence in Lebanon.

Al-Hassan headed an investigation over the summer that led to the arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, one of Syria's most loyal allies in Lebanon. He also led the inquiry that implicated Syria and Hezbollah in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Syria itself has been riven with violence since an uprising against President Bashar Assad began in February 2011.

"I think some security issues have spurred some buying of oil futures," said Victor Shum, energy analyst at consultancy Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

"It looks like the violence in Syria is spreading to other countries. There were hostilities between Turkey and Syria, and now it looks like Syria might be trying to pull other nations in the region into the conflict," he said.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Heating oil rose 0.9 cent to $3.127 per gallon.

— Wholesale gasoline rose 1.4 cents to $2.686 per gallon.

— Natural gas was down 2.1 cents at $3.596 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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