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By Grant Smith
LONDON - Oil traded near the lowest level in almost four months in New York amid concern that Greece will struggle to secure another bailout and uncertainty over who will win tomorrow’s U.S. presidential elections.
West Texas Intermediate futures were little changed after falling 2.6 percent on Nov. 2 to cap a third weekly decline. Brent crude fell below $105 a barrel in London for the first time since Aug. 2. Voters decide tomorrow between giving President Barack Obama another four years in office or changing course with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
“Some clarity for the medium-term would be good for the markets,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, who predicts Brent crude will rebound toward $110 a barrel this month. “Obama is considered by the oil markets as being more favorable.”
Crude for December delivery was at $85.21 a barrel, up 35 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:41 p.m. London time. It rose as high as $85.38. The contract slid 1.7 percent last week to $84.86, the lowest close since July 10. Prices have lost 14 percent this year.
Brent for December settlement on the ICE Futures Europe exchange fell as much as 92 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $104.76 a barrel. The North Sea crude dropped after Nexen Inc. was said to have restarted the Buzzard oil field, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $20.28 to New York-traded WTI grade.
European leaders’ determination to keep Greece in the euro area will be tested this week as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras battles to win political support for measures needed to obtain financial aid.
Brent will remain in a range of $105 to $110 a barrel as higher refinery runs offsets risks in the global economy, Morgan Stanley said in a report today.
Hess Corp.’s Port Reading and Phillips 66’s Bayway refineries in New Jersey remained shut after Hurricane Sandy, curbing demand for crude a week after the storm struck the U.S. East Coast.
Power was partially restored at Hess’s 70,000 barrel-a-day plant, Lorrie Hecker, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. Power has been restored to Phillips’s 238,000 barrel-a-day Bayway site, which is closed as the company makes repairs, Rich Johnson, a Houston-based spokesman, said in a phone interview. Both facilities shut before Sandy hit and lost power after the storm made landfall Oct. 29 in southern New Jersey.