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Oil above $91 as Greece austerity vote awaited

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices rose above $91 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as investors mulled whether Greece will approve more austerity measures this week to receive the next round of international aid and avert a debt default.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was up 45 cents to $91.06 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude fell 55 cents to settle at $90.61 on Monday.

In London, Brent crude for August delivery was up $1.12 to $117.11 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Greek lawmakers will vote Wednesday on a $40 billion austerity plan, government spending cuts that European officials say are a necessary condition to receive the next installment of Greece’s $156 billion bailout loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

If Greece rejects the cuts, it could lead to a debt default and spread instability in other financially troubled European countries.

“Most observers expect the Greeks to understand just how much is at stake,” energy consultant Cameron Hanover said in a report. “Contrarians argue that Greece’s people may decide there is less pain in a default than in austerity.”

Workers across Greece walked off the job Tuesday at the start of a 48-hour general strike while thousands of protesters held a rally outside Parliament, chanting anti-austerity slogans.

Weakness in the U.S. economy is also on the radar. The Commerce Department said Monday that U.S. consumer spending was unchanged in May, the worst result since September 2009. When adjusted for inflation, spending dropped slightly.

In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil added 2.3 cents to $2.79 a gallon while gasoline gained 2.4 cents at $2.83 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 1.0 cent at $4.27 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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