Oil prices jumped 4 percent on Thursday as inflamed Middle East tensions stoked supply fears and U.S. gasoline futures rallied following a fire at the largest operating refinery in the United States.
Brent crude posted the biggest percentage gain since late June as news of the refinery fire at the diesel hydrotreater unit at Exxon Mobil’s (XOM.N) Baytown, Texas, refinery sent RBOB gasoline futures up more than 5 percent at times in afternoon trade.
Further support for oil came from U.S. equities gains after weekly jobless claims data suggested improvement in the labor market ahead of the monthly nonfarm payrolls report to be released on Friday.
In the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month uprising in Syria, Turkey stepped up retaliatory artillery strikes on a Syrian border town after what it called “the last straw” when a mortar hit Akcakale, killing a mother, her three children and a female relative.
The market had been on edge about possible disruptions to supplies from the oil-rich region due to the standoff between the West and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program.
“You have the Middle East and the euro strong against the weaker dollar because people think Europe may yet get a handle on their debt crisis,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Via – Reuters 
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