Oil markets remained tense on Thursday on concerns of a military escalation in Syria, but prices were some way off Wednesday’s 2014 highs as bulging American supplies weighed.
U.S. WTI crude futures were at $67.17 a barrel, up 0.52% or 0.35 cents from their last settlement.
Brent crude futures were at $72.25 per barrel, up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent from their last close.
Both Brent and WTI hit their 2014 highs of $73.09 and $67.45 per barrel on Wednesday, respectively, after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh and U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria.
Trump declared that missiles “will be coming” in Syria, taunting Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after a suspected chemical attack on rebels. Damascus and Moscow have denied any responsibility.
The tension intensified in another front as Saudi Arabia said its air defense forces intercepted three ballistic missiles fired at Riyadh and other cities by Yemen’s Houthis.
Trump has also threatened to withdraw from a nuclear deal struck in 2015 with Tehran.
In China, Shanghai crude futures were also up, rising 9 yuan to $427.2 yuan ($427.20) per barrel, with record volumes traded on the product that was only launched in late March.
“Geopolitical risks outweighed an unexpected rise in inventories in the U.S.,” a bank said on Thursday.
US oil inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels to 428.64 million barrels
Worries on the Middle East overwhelmed budding optimism that Washington and Beijing will work out a compromise to avert a trade war following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech on Tuesday.
Given the uncertainties on diplomacy and trade, economic news is currently of secondary importance to investors.
The United States now produces more crude than top exporter Saudi Arabia. Only Russia, at currently just under 11 million bpd, pumps out more.