Oil prices are on the march again Thursday after climbing sharply yesterday, with WTI prices this morning above $69 per barrel and Brent crude, the global benchmark, earlier reaching $74.61.

Crude oil is trading at its highest levels in well over three years.

Expand chart
Data: Money.net; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: As we noted yesterday in the Axios stream, the price jump suggests that oil may no longer be stuck in the $60 to $70-a-barrel range, but may have room to rise much higher. That would put a lot more money in the coffers of the petro-states, and could bring inflation to oil-consuming states.

What's happening: Signs of declining stockpiles, OPEC and Russia's apparent determination to stay the course on their current supply-limiting deal, and geopolitical tensions are all fueling the upward moves, which come despite the ongoing U.S output surge.

Yes, but: That said, OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan predicts in Reuters that the "risk premiums" from geopolitical tensions in the Middle East will be short-lived and that "investors will likely be normalizing prices lower again as the tensions ease."

Looking forward: This morning, the Wall Street Journal sets the table for tomorrow's meeting of oil officials from Saudi Arabia and Russia as analysts wonder what happens after the current deal expires at year's end.

  • "A strong show of support for a continuation of the pact could further underpin prices, when geopolitics and the threat of supply disruptions have been pressuring them higher," the paper reports.

Eyes on Iran: Markets are also watching the U.S. posture toward the Iran nuclear deal and especially next month's decision on whether to continue waiving energy sanctions.

  • A new piece in Bloomberg surveyed analysts and found, "The 17 respondents saw on average a 50-50 chance of sanctions 'snap-back,' which could halt anywhere between zero and 800 thousand barrels a day of exports from OPEC’s third-largest producer within the next six months."

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m. EST: 32,062,182 — Total deaths: 979,701 — Total recoveries: 22,057,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m EST: 6,967,103 — Total deaths: 202,558 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  5. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  7. Science: During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
2 hours ago - Podcasts

The child care tax on America's economy

Child care in the U.S. is in crisis, which makes it much harder for the American economy to recover — as providers struggle to stay in business and parents wrestle with work.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the problems and what can be done to solve them, with Vox senior reporter Anna North.

Viral load is a puzzle in COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

How sick a person gets from a virus can depend on how much of the pathogen that person was exposed to and how much virus is replicating in their body — questions that are still open for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: As people try to balance resuming parts of their daily lives with controlling their risk of COVID-19, understanding the role of viral load could help tailor public health measures and patient care.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!