BY EMEKA EJERE

The international oil benchmark, Brent crude, gained nearly two per cent on Monday to shake off earlier losses, as the United States heads into a contentious presidential election.

Brent, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, had fallen more than $2 to around $36 per barrel earlier on Monday but rose to $38.63 per barrel as of 8:30pm Nigerian time.

Reuters reported on Monday that the oil market had been under pressure in recent days, hit by concerns about weaker fuel demand as several European countries went into lockdown to curb the coronavirus. New infections spiked in the United States as well.

Oil prices pared some losses after Japan’s export orders grew for the first time in two years and China’s factory activity rose to its highest in nearly a decade in October.

Further, US manufacturing activity accelerated more than expected in October, with new orders jumping to their highest level in nearly 17 years.

President Donald Trump will face off against Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the election, which has spiked concerns nationwide about turbulence and protests stemming from the results.

Countries across Europe have re-imposed lockdown measures to try to slow COVID-19 infection rates that have accelerated over the past month.