NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil rose for a third straight day Monday, while natural gas plunged on forecasts for more seasonal weather.

Benchmark oil for May gained 75 cents to finish at $88.76 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Analysts said relatively low oil prices rekindled interest among buyers. Traders have cautiously returned to buying certain key commodities, including gold and oil, after a big sell-off early last week. Gold rose nearly $26 an ounce Monday.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refiners, rose 74 cents to $100.39 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

At the gas pump, the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular rose 1 cent over the weekend to $0.352. But analysts say the longer-term trend is lower, with some predicting that pump prices could fall another 20 cents over the next two months.

Natural gas fell 14 cents to $4.27 per 1,000 cubic feet. Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, said the drop was caused by forecasts for above normal temperatures starting by the end of this week.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

  • Gasoline was flat at $2.77 per gallon.
  • Heating oil added 2 cents to $2.81 a gallon.

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