(1st Ld Writethru): U.S. oil edges up as Sandy sweeps East Coast

October 31, 2012 10:17 am 

NEW YORK, Oct. 31 — U.S. crude prices edged up on Tuesday as storm Sandy swept the East Coast, shutting refineries as well as crude supplies.

Floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed for the second day because of the storm, while electronic trading was operating normally, CME Group Inc., the exchange's owner, said in a statement.

Oil prices fluctuated as investors tried to evaluate the impacts of the super storm of Sandy.

After making a landfall along the coast of southern New Jersey late Monday, the storm drove floodwaters to life-threatening levels in a region with 60 million population, causing large scale of power outage and transportation disruption.

Six major refineries along the East Coast curbed production because of Sandy, accounting for over 90 percent of the region's refinery capacity. The storm may cut the region's gasoline supplies to the lowest level since at least 1990, according to data from the Energy Department.

Meanwhile, the storm also shut ports, airports and railways. Tankers that carry crude to refineries were halted, which reduced oil supplies.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said it will postpone the release of its weekly report of oil inventories from Wednesday to Thursday because of storm-related delays.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery added 14 cents, or 0. 16 percent to settle at 85.68 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. But Brent crude for December delivery fell slightly by 36 cents, or 0.33 percent to finish at 109.08 dollars a barrel. (PNA/Xinhua)

LOR/EBP

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