Crude oil futures settled at a fresh three-and-half-year high on Monday as geopolitical uncertainty rose after weekend elections in Venezuela viewed as illegitimate raised the prospect of US sanctions on the country's exports. Besides, gains in US markets also supported the prices. Moreover, Venezuela's socialist President Nicholas Maduro faced widespread international condemnation on Monday after his re-election in a weekend vote his critics denounced as a farce cementing autocracy in the crisis-stricken oil producer. The US is actively considering oil sanctions on OPEC member Venezuela, where output has dropped by a third in two years to its lowest in decades.
Benchmark crude oil futures for June delivery climbed 96 cents or 1.40 percent to settle at $72.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. July Brent crude rose 71 cents or 0.90 percent to settle at $79.22 a barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange.