Commodities News

Oil Up, U.S. on Alert For “Imminent” Russian Attack on Ukraine

By Gina Lee – Oil was up on Thursday morning in Asia, briefly surpassing the $100-mark. The situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, which gave the black liquid a boost.

Brent oil futures rose 4.46% to $98.24 by 11:33 PM ET (4:33 AM GMT), after hitting the $100 mark for the first time since 2014. WTI futures jumped 4.71% to $96.44.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken believes that Russia will invade Ukraine after separatists from the latter’s Donbass (Donbas) regions requested Russian help to repel “aggression”. Russian President Vladimir Putin also ordered a “special military operation” to protect the Donbas earlier in the day.

In addition, hundreds of Ukrainian computers were hit by data-wiping software, the latest in what Ukraine sees as an intensifying wave of hacks as Russia massed troops around its borders.

“After a lull yesterday where the Russia-Ukraine situation fell out of the headlines, it is inevitable reemergence overnight has caused a flight to safety once again and lifted oil over fears of a disruption in global energy supplies,” OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley told Reuters.

“One factor that could act as a temporary brake on prices is the Iran nuclear deal with rumors swirling around that a new agreement could be announced, possibly as early as this week. However, Ukraine fears, and their wider ramifications will continue to support oil prices which remain a solid buy on dips,” he added.

Elsewhere, indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran could lead to the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions on Iranian oil. However, Iran on Wednesday urged the West to be “realistic” in talks. The country also said that its top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani was returning to Iran for consultations, indicating a breakthrough in its discussions is not imminent.

Wednesday’s U.S. crude oil supply data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a build of 5.983 million barrels for the week ended Feb. 18, its first build in five weeks. Forecasts prepared by predicted a 767,000-barrel build, while a 1.076-million-barrel draw was reported during the previous week.

Investors now await crude oil supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, due later in the day.

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