Oil passes $87, gas prices continue climb

As the price of oil creeps toward $90 a barrel, consumers are bracing for the inevitable hike in prices at the pumps. But whether rising prices are a good sign that the economy abroad and at home is actually strengthening is anyone’s guess.Current gas prices in the Manchester area, according to the American Automobile Association, are averaging just under $2.80 gallon, with diesel at $3.06. Portsmouth area prices are a few cents higher.Just a month ago, prices were in the mid-$2.60 range.The national average is about $2.85 per gallon of regular gas, and diesel is at $3.12.As cold, blustery weather sets in, New Hampshire is also reminded that the winter heating season has returned.According to the state Office of Energy and Planning, the average price of home heating oil on Nov. 1, the most recent available, was $2.83 a gallon.A sampling of prices during the week of Nov. 1 from South Central New Hampshire dealers, as reported by trade organization Energy Data Corp., averaged $2.70, but varied widely across the state.Crude prices traded at about $87 on Monday, breaking an intraday record set in early May, as last week’s news that U.S. employers added some 151,000 jobs signaled growing demand and a stronger dollar.The price of crude oil has risen more than 16 percent since September. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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