Egypt unrest pushes Brent crude oil to $100 a barrel

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The price of Brent crude oil has passed $100 a barrel for the first time since October 2008 on concerns about the political unrest in Egypt.

The price of Brent rose $1.66 to $101.08 before falling back to $100.01.

Oil prices had risen earlier in the day on fears that protests could lead to the closure of the Suez Canal and disrupt oil supplies.

But the head of producers' group Opec said he did not expect Suez to be affected.

And a canal official said that the waterway was running at full capacity.

Brent oil has steadily climbed since August when it was just over $70 a barrel as the economic recovery has lifted global demand.

US light crude also rose $2.85, or 3.2% to settle at $92.19

"Traders are buying dips on fears that things could escalate further in the Middle East and spread to other countries," said Tom Bentz, a broker at BNP Paribas in New York.

"Everything is still moving and there is no loss of shipping. But there are still concerns - nothing has gone away."

And James Burkhard, managing director for Global Oil at the analysis firm IHS CERA said: "Given how important a role Egypt plays in the Arab world and in the Middle East, the unrest adds a new level of anxiety to the oil market."

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