* Oil drops $4 a barrel in a quick burst of selling
* White House denies speculation about SPR release
* CFTC “looking into” oil market rout
By Joshua Schneyer and Alexandra Alper
New York/Washington, Sept 17 (Reuters) – Four minutes of hectic high volume trading sheared $4 off the price of oil late. Monday and left traders and U.S. regulators hunting for the cause of one of the fastest and most furious energy market routs in recent years.
In the absence of any major headline news that could have explained the drop, which hit both international benchmark Brent crude and U.S. oil futures, traders and analysts speculated it may have been caused by an incorrectly entered trade — a “fat finger” error — or a high frequency computer trading program gone awry.
The White House doused market speculation that it was ready to approve an oil release from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) to bring down prices, although it said the option remains “on the table.”