Crude Oil Hits $72, Highest in Three Years Over Middle East Tensions

US crude oil exports to Europe increasing on wider Brent  WTI spread in April

US crude oil exports to Europe increasing on wider Brent WTI spread in April

On Wednesday, reports that Saudi Arabia's air defenses intercepted a missile launched towards the country by Houthi rebels in Yemen further stoked geopolitical tensions and supported prices.

Oil prices hit their highest level since early December 2014 after United States President Donald Trump warned Russian Federation to prepare for a strike on its ally, Syria. US crude oil inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels to 428.64 million barrels. "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" he added.

On Monday, crude oil tracked global stock prices higher on signs over the weekend that President Donald Trump's administration may be softening its stance in the trade spat with China, though remarks from China's foreign ministry and a tweet from Trump suggest the dispute could easily heat up again. U.S. WTI crude futures were down 12 cents at $66.70.

Oil prices settled higher Monday, to recover much of what they lost last week, as U.S.

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Crude oil markets have been heating up and this has reflected in fuel prices in India with petrol touching 4-year highs and diesel also at all-time highs.

Brent, the benchmark for global oil prices, were at $72.14 a barrel, up $1.10, or 1.6 per cent from Tuesday's closing price.

Meanwhile, US crude oil production hit a fresh record last week, of 10.53 million barrels a day.

Last night, United States stockpile data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) sent oil markets into increased volatility.

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"It's not like Syria is a huge oil exporter or consumer in itself, but the fear is if something should escalate in the region, it could spread to areas where there's a lot more oil production at stake", said Michael Poulsen, senior oil analyst at consultancy Global Risk Management.

At the time of writing, Brent crude oil futures were up 0.17 per cent at $72.18 per barrel, having hit $72.49 earlier in the day.

After several sessions of strong gains, oil prices edged lower nonetheless.

"We still think that the cartel is underestimating non-OPEC supply growth", said Capital Economics analysts, noting that higher prices will encourage USA producers to ramp up activity and OPEC members to exceed quotas. Analysts in a Reuters survey had anticipated a decline of 189,000 barrels.

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