Oil prices settled higher after a turbulent day of trading on Tuesday, with market participants remaining cautious as voters went to the polls in the U.S. presidential election.
U.S. crude futures prices gained 9 cents, or 0.2%, to $44.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 11 cents, or 0.24%, to $46.04.
Crude markets swung from gains to losses and back on light trading awaiting election results.
Mark Waggoner, president of Excel Futures, said many traders were holding back, waiting on the election results before taking positions.
“It’s been a weird day today—very quiet for the most part. I think what’s happening [is that] people are just squaring positions, trying to think about who’s going to win,” he said.
In recent sessions, risky assets such as stocks and oil have risen as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pulled ahead in the polls, with many investors believing that a victory for Mrs. Clinton would bring stability to markets.
Crude prices snapped a six-session losing streak on Monday, following the stock market higher, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it hadn’t uncovered new evidence to warrant charges Mrs. Clinton. Investors interpreted that as favorable to Mrs. Clinton’s chances.
The dollar also surged on Monday, as investors have grown more confident that Mrs. Clinton would win the presidency. But strength in the U.S. dollar is often a headwind for oil, since it makes the commodity more expensive for buyers who deal in other currencies. After surging Monday, the dollar wavered somewhat on Tuesday, with the WSJ Dollar Index edging up less than 0.1%.
Market participants are also weighing the chances the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be able to finalize a deal to limit output. OPEC officials reaffirmed the cartel’s commitment to a tentative agreement to cut production on Monday, helping boost prices, but analysts and traders still are watching commentary from OPEC and non-OPEC producers closely ahead of the cartel’s Nov. 30 meeting.
“Clearly the election remains top of mind, but we have a large event at the end of November that oil markets are focused on,” said Chris Kettenmann, chief energy strategist at Macro Risk Advisors.
Market participants are also waiting to see whether U.S. crude supplies will build again after last week’s record addition to stockpiles. The official data is set for Wednesday, while the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said late Tuesday its own data for the week showed a 4.4-million-barrel increase in crude supplies, a 3.6-million-barrel decrease in gasoline stocks and a 4.3-million-barrel decline in distillate inventories, according to a market participant.
In its short term energy outlook on Tuesday, the EIA said U.S. production will fall more slowly than it had expected. The agency revised its forecast for 2016 and 2017 output up by 100,000 barrels a day in each year.
Gasoline futures prices fell 0.18 cents, or 0.13%, to $1.3692 a gallon. Diesel futures rose 0.05 cent, or 0.03%, to $1.4411.