Oil up on Trump war threat, missile attack on Saudi Arabia

Crude oil prices were higher on Thursday, although off the highest levels from the prior session, as Mideast turmoil threatened supply.

President Donald Trump sent a Twitter message directed at Vladimir Putin on Wednesday,  warning him that U.S. missiles were about to hit his ally Syria in retaliation for that nation’s alleged gas attack against civilians in rebel-held territory.

Later in the day, Saudi armed forces shot down a number of missiles fired from Yemen by Iran-supported Houthi rebels at the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh.

In Thursday morning trading, Brent crude futures were $72.33 per barrel, up 27 cents, or 0.4 percent from their last close.

U.S. WTI crude futures were at $67.20 a barrel, up 38 cents, or 0.4 percent from their last settlement.

Both Brent and WTI hit their highest since late 2014 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.

Besides geopolitical factors lifting crude oil prices, the commodity’s value was boosted somewhat by U.S. inventories.

Excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, oil in domestic storage rose 3.3 million barrels for the week ended April 6, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. The gain still left crude oil inventories in the lower half of its average seasonal range.