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Crude oil prices settle overnight

A sign at an Exxon gas station in Northwest Washington boasts gas prices of $4.559 for regular and $4.849 for supreme on March 7, 2011. Unrest in Libya and other oil-producing countries has raised a barrel of oil over $100 causing the price of gasoline to shoot up over the last few weeks. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg.
A sign at an Exxon gas station in Northwest Washington boasts gas prices of $4.559 for regular and $4.849 for supreme on March 7, 2011. Unrest in Libya and other oil-producing countries has raised a barrel of oil over $100 causing the price of gasoline to shoot up over the last few weeks. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg. | License Photo

NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices climbed close to $105 per barrel Tuesday despite Japan's release of oil from national reserves.

Japan is trying to relieve shortages resulting from the earthquake and tsunami that struck March 11. The announcement that it would allow oil companies to use 22-days' worth of oil reserves brought prices down overnight. But unsettled conditions in the Middle East put upward pressure on prices through the day.

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On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil prices added $1.04 cents overnight to $104.83 per barrel. Home heating oil prices shed 0.32 cents to $3.073 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline prices gained 1.95 cents to $3.024 per gallon.

Henry Hub natural gas prices added 1.6 cents to $4.27 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline dropped to $3.547 per gallon from Monday's $3.549, AAA said.

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