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Oil Rises Sharply, Closes Near $145 on Iran Fears

U.S. crude oil futures ended more than 2 percent higher as geopolitical and supply worries combined to lift prices to an all-time high.

Geopolitical tensions involving Iran fueled an early rally, adding to fears of further unrest in Nigeria and a strike looming among Brazil's oil workers.

Gasoline and heating oil futures leaped to new highs, buoyed by crude's strength.

Around midday, profit-taking took away part of the day's steep gains, as traders reacted to Wall Street stocks sinking on credit worries.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. light, sweet crude settled up $3.43, or 2.42 percent, at $145.08 a barrel, trading from $141.44 to an intraday record of $147.27, eclipsing the previous Nymex high of of $145.85 hit July 3.

For the the week, prices are down 21 cents, or 0.14 percent from the record settlement of $145.29 on July 3. From the start of the year, prices are up $49.10, or 51.16 percent.

"Despite today's pullback off the (new) highs, we are viewing the early attainment of fresh record levels as a solid revival of this year's bull market," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Illinois.

London Brent Crude ended up $2.46, or 1.73 percent, at $144.49 a barrel, trading from $141.62 to a record $147.50.

Iraq's Defense Ministry said on Friday it had no knowledge of any Israeli Air Force drills in its airspace. An Israeli security source said a media report, carried on the website of the Jerusalem Post, was wrong.

Later, the Israeli military issued an official denial of the report of its Air Force training in Iraq.

The European Union raised concerns on Friday over Iran's announcement that it had conducted missile tests and stepped up calls on Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.

Iran's official IRNA news agency said Tehran's top nuclear negotiator would meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Geneva on July 19, a date the EU hasn't confirmed.

The dollar was battered by more worries about the U.S. financial sector after U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson offered no hint that the government intends to bail out major mortgage buyers Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae .

The rebel group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has said it was abandoning a cease-fire to protest a British offer to help fight lawlessness in the region in Nigeria.

In Brazil, oil workers at Petrobras' main output base will begin a five-day strike on Monday, regardless of whether Petrobras presents a proposal before then, a union official said.

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