Crude oil prices advanced slightly and hovered above $85 a barrel during Asian trading hours Tuesday as investors opted for caution ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
Light sweet crude for the December delivery gained 0.06 percent or 5 cents to $85.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange during the Asian trading hours. Brent crude oil futures for the December delivery rose 0.06 percent or 6 cents to $107.79 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
Investors remained cautious due to uncertainty regarding the outcome of the U.S. elections. Polls indicated that the outcome is too close to call. Not a single major poll has given President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney a significant lead, raising concerns of a cliffhanger that may delay the outcome and roil the markets, as it did during the extended presidential battle in 2000.
Sentiment was also weighed down by renewed euro zone concerns. Greece will vote on the austerity measures Wednesday aimed at opening the door to further aid. However, public and private sector workers are set to stage a 48-hour walkout protesting against the fresh package of budget cuts which the government is trying to push through at the troika’s request.
"Trading volumes have been thin as the focus is on the U.S. elections at the moment. Investors are also monitoring the aftermath of super storm Sandy on the east coast and the Greek situation. There are concerns Greece may not get the funding and the argument that Greece could quit the euro may come back to haunt the risk sentiment of investors,” Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, investors are also awaiting the start National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Nov. 8, where the party will present its new leaders for the next ten years. Xi Jinping is tipped to replace Hu Jintao as the leader of China for the next 10 years.
On Monday, the light sweet crude for the December delivery gained 0.9 percent or 79 cents and settled at $85.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude for the December delivery advanced 1.9 percent or $2.05 and settled at $107.73 a barrel.