Oil Extends Gains After Middle East Tensions Push Brent Over $90

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Storage drums stacked in the Keihin industrial area of Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Oil dropped for a third day, erasing all of the surge on Monday that followed Hamas’ attack on Israel over the weekend. Photographer: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg

Oil extended advances on escalating tensions in the Middle East after blowing past the $90-a-barrel threshold in the previous session.

Global benchmark Brent rose to above $91, near its highest since October, while West Texas Intermediate was at around $87. Israel has increased preparations for potential retaliation by Tehran after Monday’s strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria, stoking fears of a wider regional conflict.


Crude has surged by 18% this year amid geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine, as well as OPEC+’s supply restrictions and healthy demand. The conflict between Israel and Hamas had led to Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, pushing up transport costs, but has so far not escalated into a wider war in a region that accounts for around a third of the world’s oil supply.

Cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas — which could see the release of hostages held in Gaza — remain deadlocked. Israel’s economy minister said he doesn’t trust Qatar to act as a mediator with Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the US and Europe.

“The wider Mideast tensions stemming from the Gaza war are probably at the highest in months,” said Vandana Hari, founder of Vanda Insights in Singapore. “Crude is reflecting that Mideast conflagration fear premium.”

Earlier this week, OPEC+ chose to stick with supply cuts for the first half of the year, keeping global markets tight and buttressing the case for higher prices. A panel of key members led by Saudi Arabia recommended no policy changes at an online review meeting. That means roughly 2 million barrels a day of output curbs will remain in place.

Market watchers have become more bullish in recent weeks. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has warned that Brent has the potential to rally to $100 a barrel this year if Russia’s recent decision to cut production wasn’t balanced out by other counter-measures. ANZ Banking Group Ltd., meanwhile, raised its three-month outlook to $95.

Some oil gauges are signaling further advances. Timespreads are strengthening, while call options — which profit when oil prices rise — are trading at a premium over the opposite put options. Money managers have also been increasing their net-long positions.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

By Yongchang Chin


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