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Crude oil prices rise on forecast of cold snap headed for northeastern U.S.

SINGAPORE (AP) — Crude oil futures opened the week slightly higher, briefly rising above $58 a barrel, on predictions a cold snap was headed for the northeastern United States, the world's biggest winter heating fuel market.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery rose as much as 57 cents to $58.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, before slipping to $57.94. The contract fell to $56.93 a barrel last week before closing at $57.53 Friday.

Friday's close was the benchmark contract's lowest close in four months. The tumultuous oil market has been roiled in recent months from outages caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and speculation there wouldn't be enough supply to counter winter demand.

Respected forecaster AccuWeather predicted a "big change" in the weather pattern this week, with a cold jetstream, coming from Canada, hitting the eastern U.S. by midweek and stay through the weekend, AccuWeather said.

"This will mean a repeated shot of cold, wintry weather across the northern States over this time period," said AccuWeather on its Web site.

In other Nymex prices, heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.7452 a gallon while gasoline was up a penny to $1.4975 a gallon. Natural gas meanwhile, spiked 13 cents to $11.85 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Prices dipped after both the United States and Japan reported rising inventories last week, amid signs that gasoline demand was also slowing in the United States.

Hurricane Katrina sent prices soaring to $70.85 a barrel Aug. 30, but have since fallen about 20 percent.