Oil prices climb ahead of crucial Greece election

Gas prices are advertised at a gas station on June 14, 2012, in Miami.
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

(AP) Oil is climbing slightly ahead of a weekend election in Greece that could prove crucial to Europe's efforts to bolster its sagging economy.

Benchmark oil rose 30 cents to $84.21 per barrel Friday in New York. Brent crude gained 76 cents to $97.93 per barrel in London.

Sunday's election could determine if Greece will leave the union of countries that use the euro. A Greek exit could worsen Europe's financial crisis and lead to slower global economic growth, which would cut oil demand.

In the short-term, the election could panic markets. Oil traders hope that central bankers in the U.S. and Europe will act to stem any resulting strain on the financial system.

Meanwhile, the U.S. national average for retail gasoline fell about a penny overnight to $3.524 per gallon.