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Oil slightly higher as markets await Greece vote

By Chris Kahn

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 21 2011 1:17 p.m. MDT

Shell gas worker Toke Fusi lowers the price of gas at a Shell gas station in Menlo Park, Calif., Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Oil stayed below $94 per barrel Tuesday ahead of a key vote in Greece on its financial crisis.

Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Oil settled slightly higher on Tuesday ahead of a key vote in Greece on its financial crisis.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery rose 14 cents to settle at $93.40 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the last day of trading for the July contract and most of the trading had shifted to the August contract, which rose 54 cents to settle at $94.17 per barrel. It was as high as $95.10 a barrel before it retreated.

"What you're seeing is a lot of nervous trading right now before this vote in Greece," PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said.

Greece's embattled prime minister faces a crucial vote of confidence in parliament later Tuesday. If the vote fails, it would throw into doubt whether Greece will implement new austerity measures required for the next $17 billion in aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. If Greece defaults on its debt, the economies of other European countries could be affected as well.

U.S. stock markets appeared convinced that Europe would work out its debt problems. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all rose for a second day.

Meanwhile, retail gasoline in the U.S. lost about a penny Tuesday at $3.637 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Gasoline is 21.5 cents cheaper than a month ago, but it's still 90 cents per gallon higher than the same time last year.

In its weekly report MasterCard SpendPulse said demand at the pump fell for the 13th straight week, based on a four-week average, compared to a year ago. SpendingPulse reports on national retail sales and is based on aggregate sales and services activity in the MasterCard payments network. It includes estimates for all other payment forms, including cash and check.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil gave up 4.20 cents to settle at $2.8900 per gallon and gasoline futures lost 2.89 cents to settle at $2.8826 per gallon. Natural gas added 7.1 cents at $4.388 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude lost 74 cents to settle at $110.95 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

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