Oil Futures Sharply Higher

From Associated Press

Oil futures prices advanced strongly Friday, closing higher for the fourth day in a row, the longest run-up since the dramatic collapse in oil prices began in November.

Leaded gasoline was up by the 2-cent-a-gallon limit for daily trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and crude oil settled near the day's highs.

"There was strong buying, but we're not ready to say that the bottom is over and the recovery is under way," said John Hill, an analyst in New York with Merrill Lynch Commodities.

Helping prices on Friday was news that a possible strike among Norwegian caterers who bring food to the oil rigs at sea could stop oil production there.

"The market seems to have taken this very seriously," Hill said, adding, however, that labor problems of this nature in Norway have been quickly settled in the past.

Treasury bond futures declined sharply in response to the higher crude oil prices, said Gary Dorsch, senior money-market analyst with G. H. Miller & Co. in Chicago.

Also, he said, there was heavy selling by investors taking profits.

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