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Oil rises as US 3Q economic growth remains sluggish, massive storm aims for East Coast

Sandy Shore, The Associated Press

The price of oil rose slightly Friday as data showed the U.S. economy is muddling along and the East Coast prepares for a potentially damaging storm.

Benchmark oil rose 23 cents to end at $86.28 per barrel in New York.

Forecasters expect a major storm to hit the East Coast beginning early Sunday with heavy rain, winds and perhaps snow lingering into Halloween. It has the potential to force refinery closures and delay delivery of imports.

More than half a dozen refineries could be in the path of the storm. Closures would cut into supplies of energy products such as gasoline and heating oil, which primarily is used in the Northeast to keep businesses and homes warm.

Meanwhile, the government said the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2 per cent in the third quarter. That's better than the 1.3 per cent growth in the second quarter, but still too weak to significantly boost job creation — or energy demand.

Although oil rose slightly on Thursday and Friday, it fell 4.2 per cent for the week. The U.S. remains well-supplied with oil while demand for gasoline is down as large numbers of Americans remain unemployment and so don't drive to work. Oil is down 13 per cent since hitting $99 in mid-September.

In London, Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose $1.06 to finish the day at $109.55 per barrel.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

— Heating oil rose 3.57 cents to end at $3.0978 per gallon.

— Wholesale gasoline rose 2.27 cents to end at $2.6991 per gallon.

— Natural gas fell 3.4 cents to end at $3.40 per 1,000 cubic feet.