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Crude oil futures prices rose for the third straight day Friday as the Pentagon announced it will send 1,400 more soldiers to the Middle East to forestall potential aggression by Iraq against its neighbors.

The news, while hardly alarming, gave the market a reason to maintain its upward momentum."The market has become very conditioned to headlines in the past week - refinery problems, the tropical storms and now this," said Tom Knight, a trading manager for the Fina Oil and Chemical Co. division of FINA Inc., a Dallas-based oil and natural gas producer.

Heating oil and natural gas futures also rose; gasoline futures were mixed. On other commodity markets, cotton and silver rose sharply, and cattle futures slipped ahead of a supply report. The Commodity Research Bureau's index of 21 commodities rose 1.85 points to 237.33.

Light sweet crude oil for September delivery climbed 21 cents to $17.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The move capped the fourth straight week of higher crude prices, which have rallied from $17.14 in early July.

September wholesale home heat-ing oil rose 0.43 cent to 49.70 cents a gallon; September wholesale unleaded gasoline slipped 0.06 cent to 54.23 cents a gallon; September natural gas climbed 4.7 cents to $1.577 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The U.S. decision to bolster its forces in the Middle East was based in part on indications from two prominent Iraqi defectors that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has contemplated attacking Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials said.