George Jahn
Associated Press
March 11, 2008

Oil prices topped $109 a barrel for the first time Tuesday as investors sought refuge from the anemic dollar.

Speculation that rising prices for oil and other commodities will offset the falling dollar has driven oil up from $87 a barrel in January. Oil’s latest rise came as the International Energy Agency said crude prices will likely be underpinned by brisk demand in China and other emerging markets.

Light sweet crude for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange surged to $109.20 a barrel in electronic trading before slipping back to $108.84 by early afternoon in European trading.

But even that later level was 61 cents higher than the previous intraday peak set Monday, reflecting oil’s seemingly inexorable march toward the psychologically significant $110 a barrel mark.

Crude futures on Monday rose $2.75 to a settlement record of $107.90 a barrel.

The dollar slipped as crude climbed, with the euro notching another record high against the U.S. currency, rising to more than a cent to $1.5464 in morning trading in Europe compared to late Monday in New York.

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