The price of oil rose slightly Monday amid alternating hope and uncertainty about the looming deadline for U.S. lawmakers to reach an agreement over the government’s borrowing limit and shutdown.
Benchmark crude for November delivery rose 39 cents to close at $102.41 a barrel in in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark used to price international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, was down 24 cents to $111.04 per barrel.
The price of oil “continues to gyrate around speculation and rumor regarding the shutdown of the U.S. government,” wrote energy analyst Stephen Schork in a report.
The price has swung back and forth for days as lawmakers try to resolve an impasse that left the government partially closed and the markets worried about the U.S. defaulting on its debt for the first time. The United States will reach the limit of its borrowing authority on Thursday, according to estimates from the Treasury Department.
The decline in U.S. retail gasoline prices that has lasted for six weeks has all but stopped. The national average fell less than a penny Monday to $3.34 per gallon after spending all of last week at $3.35 per gallon. The average is 20 cents cheaper than it was a month ago, and 45 cents below last year at this time. In Houston Monday, the average was $3.069 a gallon, down from $3.071 Sunday, according to AAA.
Gasoline prices have fallen because supplies are ample and demand is tepid. They haven’t slid further because oil prices remain relatively high, thanks to strong global demand for crude, especially in China.
Some traders expect the price of oil to fall soon, however, because supplies appear to be plentiful. In its latest quarterly oil market report, the International Energy Agency predicted strong growth in non-OPEC supplies of crude oil, easily outpacing demand growth next year. The Paris-based IEA also said Friday that the United States would overtake Russia next year as the largest non-OPEC producer of liquid fuels.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline remained unchanged to close at $2.67 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 4 cents to close at $3.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil fell less than a penny to close at $3.03 a gallon.