Oil prices jump as Rita nears

NEW YORK - Crude-oil prices rose Wednesday as traders braced for the possibility that Hurricane Rita could smash into key oil facilities in Texas.

Workers fled oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico less than a month after Hurricane Katrina tore through the same region, as Rita strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery rose 60 cents to settle at $66.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after surging as high as $68.27 earlier Wednesday.

Heating oil jumped nearly 3 cents to $2.0387 a gallon, while gasoline surged more than 7 cents to $2.0531 a gallon.

Judge OKs $6.1B in WorldCom settlements

NEW YORK - A federal judge Wednesday approved legal settlements that will return more than $6.1 billion to investors who suffered losses in the massive WorldCom Inc. accounting fraud.

The deals, approved by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, will divide payments among about 830,000 people and institutions that held stocks or bonds in the telecommunications company around the time of its collapse in 2002.

Money for the payouts will come from a long list of defendants, including investment banks, auditing firms and former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers, who was convicted of fraud earlier this year and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

- From wire reports