NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices vaulted to a record $100 a barrel on Wednesday as violence in Nigeria, tight energy stockpiles and a weaker dollar triggered a surge of speculative buying, dealers said.
Oil's climb to the psychologically key triple-digit price helped send stocks tumbling on Wall Street and further darkened an already gloomy economic outlook in the United States, which has been battered by a housing crisis and credit crunch.
"Oil hitting $100 a barrel has sparked some concerns about the consumer and inflation," said Todd Salamone, vice president of research at Schaeffer's Investment Research.
U.S. crude traded once at $100 a barrel, up $4.02, before easing back to settle $3.64 higher at $99.62. It remains below the inflation-adjusted high of $101.70 hit in April 1980, a year after the Iranian revolution.