The price of oil rose 1 percent Thursday, as doubts persisted about a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Syria.
Benchmark oil for October delivery gained $1.04 to close $108.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil rose as high as $109.16.
Oil fell $3.14 a barrel on Monday and Tuesday, the result of diplomatic efforts to avoid a U.S. strike against Syria. The U.S. has threatened military action against President Bashar Assad, whom the U.S. says is responsible for a deadly chemical weapons attack against civilians.
On Thursday, there was more skepticism about whether Syria and its ally Russia could agree with the U.S. on a plan for Assad’s government to turn over its chemical weapons. There was already disagreement over how soon the Syrians needed to start accounting for their stockpiles.
“We feel that a diplomatic solution acceptable to all parties will prove elusive and that the possibility of some form of US military strike will gradually be increasing going forward,” wrote Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates, in a note to clients.
Syria is not a major oil producer, but oil traders say the possibility of a wider conflict could interrupt production and shipping routes in the Middle East and cause prices to rise.
In the U.S., the average price for a gallon of gasoline fell 1 cent to $3.55. That’s the lowest nationwide average since Aug. 28, and is 31 cents cheaper than at this time last year.
Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, was up $1.32 to $112.82 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to $2.76 per gallon.
- Natural gas gained 7 cents to $3.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.
- Heating oil added 5 cents to $3.12 per gallon.