Crude oil nearly hits $99

Rising tensions over the civil war in Syria pushes energy prices higher. Brent crude, which affects gasoline prices, approaches $107 a barrel.

By Charley Blaine Jun 17, 2013 4:35PM
Oil derricks © Comstock/CorbisUpdated: 5:24 p.m. ET

On May 31, crude oil in New York settled at $91.97 a barrel, and there were thoughts the price might break below $90.

On Monday, crude oil (-CL) briefly hit $98.74 a barrel before settling back to $97.77, down 8 cents from Friday. But the worry that crude oil might hit $100 a barrel is definitely at play, with the possibility of higher prices at the gas pump.

Brent crude, the benchmark North Sea oil that has a big influence on domestic gasoline prices, was at $105.57 a barrel after reaching as high as $106.67.

Light sweet crude is up 6.3% for the month and 6.5% on the year. Brent crude is flat for the month and down 5% in 2013.

So far, gasoline prices are steady. AAA put its national average retail price of gas at $3.611 a gallon, down from $3.614 on Sunday and basically unchanged for the month. But if Brent, in particular, moves higher, you'll pay more at the pump.

As it is, the AAA national average price is up 9.7% this year. But, if it's any solace, the price is still down from a 2013 peak of $3.786 a barrel.

The risk of higher oil and gasoline prices are that they will choke off consumer spending. A move over $100 for light sweet crude has typically proved a psychological blow for the economy.

The Syrian situation has morphed from a horrible civil war into a global tug of war. Late Thursday,  the Obama Administration said  it planned to send small arms and ammunition to rebel forces, after concluding the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against the rebels.

The administration had been wary of going even this far, but finally decided to extend the aid.

Oil speculators decided the move would be bullish for oil prices and immediately began to push crude oil prices higher. The U.S. Oil (USO) exchange-traded fund moved up to as high as $34.94 before falling back to $34.76, up a penny from Friday.

The rally appeared to lose steam Monday when another force in the markets -- the direction of U.S. interest rates -- trumped the energy play. The dollar strengthened against major currencies, trimming the oil rally as well as a solid advance for stocks.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) shares were up 93 cents to $91.51. Chevron (CVX) added 94 cents to $121.22. Oil-services giant Schlumberger (SLB) added $1.50 to $73.10. Halliburton (HAL) rose 69 cents to $43.62. And the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE)  was up $1.15 to $81.06 on Monday, and is up 13.5% this year.

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Jun 17, 2013 5:05PM
Total B.S. no need for oil to be that high.
Jun 17, 2013 4:46PM
For those who believed prices would drop because we're increasing domestic production so much, wake up. Even if we become energy independent Exxon won't sell for less than China or India would pay.
Jun 17, 2013 4:51PM
The Oil Companies make sure there is a reason to raise their prices every Summer and this year will be no different.  This is the age old Great American Rip Off!!
Jun 17, 2013 5:12PM
Oil speculators are trying there best to bring this county down with nonsense.  The people produce nothing but high prices at the pump!!!
Even with oil at $107/barrel, the price at the pump shouldn't be over $3.00/gallon. And how does EVERY brand seem to jump at the exact same time when it's going up, but differ when going back down. SMOKE & MIRRORS PEOPLE. The Oil companies fund the crooks in Washington.
Jun 17, 2013 5:40PM
"Crude oil nearly hits $99"  Nooo...  "Crude oil nearly hits [$71]" when you account for the erosion of the value of the US$ since the beginning of QE1, 2,3 ad nauseum.
Jun 17, 2013 5:42PM
The greedy oil speculators find any reason they can to raise oil prices and the government will do nothing to stop them since most politicians are in Big Oil's pockets.
Jun 17, 2013 5:21PM
What an absolute joke.  They can find any reason to make more money.  Amazing how they can gouge and get away with it time and time again.  Makes me sick.  Oh wait, an executive just farted in the latest meeting.  The odor they had to deal with for 10 minutes will make oil go up over 100 dollars. 
Jun 17, 2013 5:20PM
So, why does a country that has no oil, processes no oil, controls no oil, raise the cost of oil?
Jun 17, 2013 6:11PM
Total B.S. is right! Cut electronic trading, speculation, people that trade but never accept delivery and hedge funds out of the system and it might make a difference. Also force the oil companies to keep any oil they pull out of the ground from the U.S. to stay here instead of selling it over seas for a larger profit.
Jun 17, 2013 11:53PM
Hey, I quit fighting them and just started buying their stock 20 years ago.  I should have started 30 years ago.
Jun 17, 2013 6:00PM
What about all this bullsh*t hoopla that American oil companies have been gushing oil here in the US?? Where the fk are they selling it then?
Jun 17, 2013 6:25PM
Haven't the oil companies stolen enough from us? 
Jun 17, 2013 6:14PM
Seems like Obama is doing everything he can to stifle the economy and put more burdens on the population. We have had 12 years soon to be 16 years of terrible government spending and waste. When will it ever end?? probably when they kill off half of us so they can live high on the hog.
Jun 17, 2013 11:13PM

Best trading in the world is trading Oil, and the best place to learn is at Oil Trading Academy. Oil is under the control of a computer program and doesn't really trade and because of this us Oil traders are racking in the cash! 

Jun 17, 2013 7:43PM
Repukelicans, Looneytarians & Teamaggots = Stupid is forever!
Jun 17, 2013 6:20PM
The war in Syria has been going on for a long time more oil company and world market greed.

Jun 17, 2013 7:00PM
Our prices here in the US will never go down no matter how much domestic oil we pump when China and India will buy all we pump. Soon we will be exporting everything from food to oil to China and we will be starving.
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