Oil prices rise as US leaders convene for last-minute fiscal-cliff talks

The price of crude rose Friday, following stock markets in Asia higher hours ahead of a last-ditch effort in Washington for political leaders to strike a budget deal before the year-end deadline.

Benchmark crude for February delivery rose 40 cents midday Bangkok time to $91.27 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract fell Thursday following a reported drop in U.S. consumer confidence and growing pessimism that President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers will reach a compromise on ways to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff — hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending cuts and tax increases that take effect automatically in 2013 unless lawmakers act.

Hopes that a compromise might be reached were raised after Obama, who cut his Hawaii vacation short, invited congressional leaders to the White House for talks Friday.

In other energy futures trading:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 cents to $2.8334 a gallon.

— Brent crude, used to price various kinds of foreign oil, rose 48 cents to $111.28 per barrel in London.

— Heating oil rose 0.3 cent to $3.0522 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 1.3 cents to $3.399 per 1,000 cubic feet.