NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil marched higher Friday with a positive report on U.S. hiring and ongoing concerns about the crisis in Egypt.

Benchmark crude for August delivery rose $1.98, or 2 percent, to finish at $103.22 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest closing price since May 2, 2012.

Following the ouster of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday, his supporters began a series of protests and attacks Friday. The military opened fire as hundreds of protesters marched on a headquarters of the Republican Guard

Egypt is not an oil-producer, but its control of the Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, gives it a crucial role in maintaining global energy supplies.

For now supplies are moving freely through the canal.

U.S. employers added a robust 195,000 jobs in June and many more in April and May than previously thought. The job growth suggests a stronger economy and makes it more likely the Federal Reserve will slow its bond purchases before year's end.

Those bond purchases have supported the economy by helping keep long-term interest rates low. That in turn has given a boost to investments such as stocks and oil.

At the pump, the national average for a gallon of gas stayed at $3.48 for the third straight day. That's down 14 cents from a month ago and 14 cents higher than a year ago.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for crude oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $2.18, or 2.1 percent, to end at $107.72 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 6 cents to finish at $2.90 per gallon.

— Natural gas fell 7 cents to end at $3.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil added 4 cents to finish at $2.99 a gallon.

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Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.

 

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