Hurricane Gustav Nears Haiti, Drives Up Oil Prices

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Hurricane Gustav grew rapidly as it closed in on impoverished Haiti today, and sent global oil prices soaring on fears it could become "extremely dangerous" in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rains on the leading edge of the storm drove many Haitians off the capital's potholed streets, but prompted few other outward signs of preparation only hours before landfall.

Oil investors reacted sharply however, fearing the hurricane could threaten the Gulf's many drilling platforms. Prices jumped by about US$5 a barrel after the Miami-based National Hurricane Center projected today that Gustav would gather strength over the Gulf's
warm waters.

The storm is on track to slice along the south coast of Cuba during the week - possibly growing into a perilous Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles-per-hour winds - before entering the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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