Tension in the Middle East raises price of oil barrel

Oil prices were moving higher this week, nearing highs in nearly three years, fueled by political tension in the Middle East, though rising supply in the United States has dampened gains. Brent crude rose $ 0.79 a barrel, or 1.11%, to $ 71.83 a barrel at 9:02 am (GMT). US crude rose $ 0.75, or 1.14%, to $ 66.26 a barrel.

The United States and its allies are considering air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces after a suspected poison gas attack last weekend. Syria is not a significant oil producer, but any sign of conflict in the region tends to raise concerns about a possible rupture in oil flows across the Middle East, where some of the world's largest producers are.

There are also concerns that the United States could renew sanctions against Iran. "The focus now is definitely a possible military attack on Syria," said Commerzbank's head of commodity research Eugen Weinberg.

"We find that the fundamentals do not justify the current price, but unfortunately, the market is focusing more on policy and ignoring some of the warning signs, especially the hike in US oil production."

US oil inventories rose 1.8 million barrels in the week to April 6 to 429.1 million, according to a report by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday, compared with analysts' expectations of a drop in crude oil prices. 189 thousand barrels.

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