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OIL

Price climbs to highest since 2008

NEW YORK | The price of oil rose to a 30-month high on Thursday as fighters loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi pushed back rebels from key areas in eastern Libya.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose $2.45, more than 2 percent, to settle at $106.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. At one point it hit $106.83, the highest it’s been since September 2008. In London, Brent crude rose $2.10 to $117.05 per barrel.

Battles between Col. Gadhafi’s troops and rebels have seesawed back and forth in Libyan ports and towns since mid-February, with the price of oil rising more than $20 a barrel since then. Energy consultants Cameron Hanover said traders are beginning to view the Libya uprising as a standoff for now.

FEDERAL RESERVE

Banks that drew loans during crisis are named

For the first time in its 98-year history, the Federal Reserve on Thursday identified banks that borrowed from its oldest lending program, naming those that drew emergency loans during the financial crisis.

The Fed was forced to make the information public after the Supreme Court rejected a bid by major banks to keep it secret.

The central bank lent up to $110 billion through its emergency “discount window” at the height of the crisis. At the time, banks were turning to the Fed as a lender of last resort because their credit had frozen up. The Fed argued then that naming banks that used its discount window could cause a run on them, endangering the institutions and defeating the program’s purpose.

The documents released Thursday provided details about which banks borrowed from the program from August 2007 through March 2010. Big U.S. banks, such as Wachovia and Morgan Stanley, took out short-term loans of $6 billion and $1.25 billion, respectively, in the fall of 2008, the documents showed.

WTO

U.S. aid to Boeing ruled ‘illegal’

GENEVA | The World Trade Organization has ruled that Boeing Co. has received at least $5.3 billion in illegal U.S. subsidies and must either withdraw them or make up for the harm caused.

The EU had alleged that Boeing received almost $24 billion in illegal subsidies, such as research grants and free use of technology, from NASA, the Department of Defense, and the states of Illinois, Kansas and Washington.

The release of the ruling Thursday is the latest development in a six-year contest and will likely next go to a WTO appeals panel.

In its ruling, the WTO says the EU has demonstrated the U.S. gave Boeing “export subsidies that are prohibited” and recommends the U.S. either withdraw them or “take steps to remove the adverse affects.”

The report details findings, which were first issued in private to the EU and U.S. in January.

TECHNOLOGY

Israeli-Palestinian duo opens fund for high-tech startups

JERUSALEM | A Harvard-educated Israeli businessman is teaming with some of the world’s leading business technology companies in what they say is the first investment fund for Palestinian high-tech startups.

Yadin Kaufmann and Palestinian software entrepreneur Saed Nashef said they have recruited an initial $28.7 million from companies like Google Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

Their aim is to boost the West Bank’s community of software entrepreneurs and build a robust economy for an eventual independent state.

The Sadara Fund, also called the Middle East Venture Capital Fund, has a list of high-profile backers including the EU’s European Investment Bank and an investment fund of billionaire George Soros.

IRS

Tax refunds average $3,000

The Internal Revenue Service expects to issue up to $300 billion in tax refunds this year.

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told Congress on Thursday the average federal tax refund is about $3,000 this year. The IRS has received a little more than 75 million returns so far, with about 65 million qualifying for refunds.

Mr. Shulman said the agency expects to issue refunds totaling $250 billion to $300 billion.

The filing deadline is April 18.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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