Oil traders appeared more confident than stock traders Tuesday that the U.S. can avoid defaulting on its debt.
Benchmark crude for November delivery rose 46 cents to close at $103.49 a barrel, at one point rising above $104. Meanwhile, stocks fell on worries that the budget standoff in Washington could jeopardize the nation’s ability to pay its bills.
“Unlike the stock market, the energy complex appears to be pricing in an avoidance of a US debt ceiling crisis next week,” wrote Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, in a note to clients.
Oil prices have bounced around between $101 and $104 a barrel after the U.S. government was forced to partially halt operations last week. A deadline is also approaching for raising the nation’s borrowing limit. If Congress doesn’t raise the limit by Oct. 17, the country could face its first-ever debt default, which experts warn could seriously harm the global economy.
The new corporate earnings period in the U.S., beginning after the market closes on Tuesday, could divert the market’s attention from the government stalemate, at least temporarily.
At the pump, the average price for gasoline remained at $3.35 a gallon. The price is 22 cents lower than a month ago and 47 cents cheaper than at this time last year.
Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, gained 48 cents to $110.16 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.63 per gallon.
- Natural gas rose 9 cents to $3.72 per 1,000 cubic feet.
- Heating oil added 2 cents to $3.03 per gallon.