NEW YORK

Increasing demand drives oil price above $100 a barrel

The price of oil briefly rose above $100 a barrel Friday for the first time this year on rising demand for fuel and some positive sentiment about the U.S. job market. Prices on the New York Mercantile exchange closed at $99.88 a barrel.

Heating oil supplies have declined as a cold and snowy winter has homeowners cranking up the thermostat more than usual. The Energy Department said Wednesday that supplies of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, fell by 2.4 million barrels last week and are now 12 percent below year-ago levels.

WASHINGTON

Postal Service reports losses of $354 million in 3 months

The Postal Service lost $354 million over the past three months, and officials warned that mounting losses could lead to cash flow problems for the rest of the year, the agency said Friday. The loss was far less than the $1.3 billion in the comparable quarter the previous fiscal year, but Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe continued to press Congress to give the agency more flexibility.

The report for the financial quarter ending Dec. 31 comes as Congress works toward fixing the agency’s troubled finances. On Thursday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill that would end Saturday mail delivery and make permanent a temporary hike in the cost of a first-class stamp, which went from 46 to 49 cents on Jan. 26.

– From news service reports