he price of oil climbed above $97 a barrel as home prices in the U.S. accelerated and stock markets resumed their rise toward record levels. Benchmark oil for March delivery rose $1, or 1 percent, to $97.44 a barrel around midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil hasn\'t closed above $97 in New York since Sept. 14. Oil is now up more than $5 a barrel this year. Signs of improvement in the global economy are driving the increase in oil prices. A report Tuesday showed U.S. home prices in November had the biggest year-over-year increase in six years. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 57 cents to $114.05 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.