Oil Spikes on Anxiety Over Bailout Proposal
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Oil prices spiked more than $25 a barrel today — the biggest one-day price jump ever — as anxiety over the government’s $700 billion bailout plan battered the dollar and touched off frenzied buying of safe-haven investments including crude.
Light, sweet crude for October delivery jumped as much as $25.45 to $130 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange before falling back somewhat to trade at $123.77, up $19.22. The contract was set to expire at the end of the day, adding to the volatility; the October price began accelerating sharply in the last hour of regular trading.
Crude has gained about $40 in a dramatic four-day rally that has at least temporarily halted oil’s steep two-month slide below $100. At this rate, crude is within striking distance of its all-time record of $147.27, reached in July.
The Nymex temporarily halted electronic crude oil trading after prices breached the $10 daily trading limit. Trading resumed seconds later after the daily limit was increased.
The huge rally was poised to shatter crude’s previous one-day price jump of $10.75, set June 6.
Oil’s sharp gains came as energy traders grappled with the implications of the government’s proposed $700 billion initiative to stem the American financial crisis by absorbing billions of dollars of banks’ bad mortgage-related securities. Anxiety over the plan also sent stocks sharply lower today; the credit markets were calmer than they were last week, but still showing the effects of investors’ nervousness.
“They’re going to have to continue auctioning off a whole lot of Treasurys to finance these projects, so the dollar is going to suffer,” head trader at LaSalle Futures at Chicago, Matt Zeman, said. “Right now it’s fear and anxiety driving people who want tangible assets.