U.S. oil markets stayed on high alert Friday as traders watched for signs of further escalation in the Middle East
's political crisis and of possible impact on tight oil supplies. Rising regional violence pushed crude oil prices
up three dollars on Thursday as fears of a cut in Middle East oil flows at a time played on concern that the U.S. is heading into winter with a big deficit in heating fuel. November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange eased 56 cents to $35.45 a barrel by midday, barely two dollars below post-Gulf War highs as traders watched for further fallout from Israeli forces' Thursday attack on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's West Bank headquarters.