NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil prices edged further up above $99 Thursday, the first trading day after Christmas, as violence in South Sudan stoked concerns about the country's oil production.

Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery was up $0.33 to close at $99.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil prices gained nearly 3% last week as optimism about the U.S. economic recovery lifted expectations for the country's energy demand.

Worries over instability in South Sudan have led some analysts to predict the contract may top $100 a barrel for the first time since mid-October. On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council voted to increase U.N. peacekeeping forces in conflict-torn South Sudan by nearly 80%.

At the gas pump, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.27. That's up $0.06 from a week ago, and up $0.21 from this time last year.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up $0.08 at $111.98 a barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline rose 0.58 cent to $2.82 a gallon.
  • Heating oil inched up 1.7 cents at $3.09 a gallon.
  • Natural gas was up 1.7 cents to $4.43 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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