Oil prices hovered near $99 a barrel Monday in Asia amid optimism new leaders in Greece and Italy will help Europe at least temporarily contain its debt crisis. Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 14 cents at $99.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.21 to settle at $98.99 in New York on Friday. Brent crude was up 24 cents to $114.40 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London. Crude has jumped about 30 per cent from $75 on Oct. 4 on hopes Greece will avoid a chaotic bond default and the financial crisis it would likely trigger. Last week, Greece and Italy replaced their leaders with economists in a bid to bolster confidence in their economic policies. Even if countries such as Greece and Italy can implement austerity measures to help lower debt levels, Europe faces waning competitiveness and weak economic growth, which could prolong the debt crisis for years. ``Markets have been remarkably patient so far,'''' DBS bank said in a report ``The longer-run problems are just as big if less acute. A long hard slog remains.'''' In other Nymex trading, heating oil added 2.4 cents to $3.20 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 0.8 cents to $2.65 per gallon. Natural gas fell 4.3 cents at $3.54 per 1,000 cubic feet.