Oil prices swung back above $100 a barrel Tuesday after a precipitous plunge a day earlier, with a growing consensus among investors that...
NEW YORK — Oil prices swung back above $100 a barrel Tuesday after a precipitous plunge a day earlier, with a growing consensus among investors that Congress will resurrect a failed U.S. financial-bailout plan.
Light, sweet crude for November delivery rose $4.27 to settle at $100.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier rising as high as $101.40.
On Monday, prices fell $10.52 to settle at $96.37 — the second-largest drop ever in dollar terms.
Crude has fallen about $20, or 17 percent, in the past eight days.
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Some recovery was to be expected after Monday’s fall, and analysts said prices will likely remain in a holding pattern until the fate of the financial-rescue plan is determined. Lawmakers were expected to reconvene in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, though it’s unclear if they will attempt another vote on the bailout.
Whether or not there is any agreement on a U.S. bailout, oil-market watchers say global financial tremors have already forced consumers and businesses to scale back energy consumption, a trend that could take prices lower in coming weeks.
“Even if the bailout gets done, it’s not going to solve everything immediately. The slowdown will have to work itself out for demand to take off again,” said Matt Zeman, head commodities trader at LaSalle Futures in Chicago.
The drop in energy demand has been especially pronounced overseas. In India, domestic-oil-product sales totaled 2.41 million barrels per day in August, the lowest level this year, according to Barclays Capital research. In the same month, Japan’s oil demand fell by 8.4 percent.
If oil prices and energy demand keep falling, some analysts say OPEC countries may act to defend the $100-per-barrel level. The cartel earlier this month said it would reduce output by 520,000 barrels a day.
“There is a chance that OPEC would cut production in coming months on the back of ongoing and potentially greater demand weakness,” said Costanza Jacazio, an oil analyst with Barclays Capital in New York.