Uncertainty in the Middle East Drives Up Crude Oil Settlements on Thursday

Oil prices switched gears on Thursday, marching upward as tensions mount in the Middle East, according to Bloomberg MarketWatch.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, December West Texas Intermediate rose 36 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $57.17 a barrel.

January Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 44 cents, or 0.7%, to end trading at $63.93 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

Oil prices have climbed nearly 3% in the week to date, in part due to a corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has detained dozens of princes, ministers and prominent businessmen. Speculation arose that King Salman would abdicate in favor of the crown prince in a few days.

The potential transfer of power and the Saudi’s conflicts with Middle East neighbors — including Iran and Iraq — has added to supply concerns, which have helped drive up prices.

Adrienne Murphy, chief market analyst at AvaTrade said she believes “the reality is that Saudi Arabia is losing its grip on the oil market.”

Meanwhile, December natural gas tacked on 2.5 cents, or 0.8% to settle at $3.20 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.