Oil prices soar

Oil rallied, touching $100 a barrel
in New York for the first time since October 2008, as Libya’s uprising
threatened to halt exports.

Crude for April delivery climbed as
much as 4.8 percent to $100 at 1:07 p.m. in New York and gasoline and heating
oil surged.

Concern that surging fuel prices
will derail the global economic recovery grew as governments evacuated
thousands of expatriates from Libya and opponents to Muammar Qaddafi took
control of eastern port cities in Africa’s third-biggest crude supplier.

An extended $10 rise in oil cuts
0.5 percentage point off U.S. growth over two years, according to Deutsche Bank
AG.

“It’s economic momentum versus
geopolitical events,” said Tommy Huie, who oversees about $33 billion as
president and chief investment officer of M&I Investment Management in
Milwaukee.

 “The U.S. equity market wants to look beyond
the current events in the Middle East.

That’s part of the dynamic of a
better economy and corporate profits. Obviously, it will all depend on the
price of oil and Libya and whether we get more stability sooner rather than
later.”

Gasoline rose for a third day on
the New York Mercantile Exchange, gaining 4.7 per cent to a more than two-year
high of $2.7236 a gallon.

Brent oil for April delivery
climbed 5.3 per cent to $111.37 a barrel.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F.
Geithner said the economic recovery has put the world on a better footing to
withstand the increase in oil prices caused by turmoil in the Middle East.

“The economy is in a much stronger
position to handle” rising oil prices, Geithner said today during a Bloomberg
Breakfast in Washington. “Central banks have a lot of experience in managing
these things.”