Oil jumps more than $3 to US$88.71 as US votes in presidential election

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The price of oil jumped the most in a month Tuesday as investors, along with voters across the United States, awaited the results of the U.S. presidential election.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose $3.06, or 3.5 per cent, to finish at US$88.71 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, surged $3.34, or 3.1 per cent, to US$110.07 a barrel in London.

But it’s still a far cry from the rise in oil the last time U.S. presidential ballots were cast in the midst of the financial crisis. Crude gained more than 10 per cent on Nov. 4, 2008, as the Dow Jones industrial average rallied 305 points. On election day in 2000, the most hotly contested election in U.S. history, oil gained a more modest 1.6 per cent.

What the market is signalling about the election’s outcome is unclear. Analyst Phil Flynn said an Obama administration in favour of tougher regulations could boost oil prices by making it tougher to increase production. But a Republican administration that supports major oil companies could also, in theory, lead to higher prices.

Other factors may have boosted oil Tuesday. Traders are still assessing the full impact of superstorm Sandy on gasoline supplies and fuel demand in the U.S. Northeast. One major refinery owned by Phillips 66 remains off-line.

And Greece holds a critical vote this week on a new austerity package that will impose further wage and benefit cuts.

In other energy futures trading in New York, wholesale gasoline rose eight cents to end at US$2.70 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil rose seven cents to US$3.05 a gallon and natural gas rose six cents US$3.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.