Oil prices closed above $100 a barrel Friday, the first time they have crossed that threshold since October.

Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery rose 77 cents to close at $100.32 in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The price of oil got a boost from a drop in applications for unemployment benefits, the latest sign of recovery in the U.S. job market, and expectations of a decline in U.S. crude stockpiles. Optimism about the U.S. economic recovery lifted expectations for the country’s energy demand.

The last time oil traded above $100 a barrel was Oct. 21. The last day it closed above $100 a barrel was Oct. 18.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 20 cents to $112.18 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

At the gas pump, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.28. That’s up 6 cents from a week ago, and up 2 cents from this time last year.


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