The U.S. shutdown, already in its ninth day, may hit energy markets in ways both large and small if the impasse is prolonged.
Traders and energy observers are starting to get nervous about the possibility that market-moving energy data typically provided by the federal government will be held up. At a minimum, the unresolved political gridlock in Washington could leave a noticeable void in the data that normally help to shape futures markets, where weekly crude supply reports routinely move front-month Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contracts.
On Wednesday, crude sank after the Energy Information Administration reported an unexpected surge in oil stockpiles. An EIA spokesman told CNBC that information on next week's data would not be available until the end of the week—raising questions about how long reports will continue to become available while swaths of the federal government are unfunded.
Based on its contingency plan, the department has funding for operations only through Oct. 11.