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Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Oil prices are trading around their highest levels since late 2014 and have clearly abandoned — at least for now — the $70 to $80 neighborhood where Brent lurched around in the spring and summer.

Where it stands: Brent crude slipped back a bit to around $84.61 while U.S. benchmark WTI trades around $75.31, as of publication this morning.

The big picture: The recent surge thanks to looming U.S. sanctions against Iran, Venezuela's ongoing decline and other forces is reviving talk among analysts in recent days of oil hitting $100 in the coming months.

  • For instance, per Reuters, "HSBC said in its fourth quarter Global Economics outlook that 'our oil analysts believe there is now a growing risk it (crude) could touch $100 per barrel.'"

Why it matters: Prices going a lot higher could create global economic headwinds and hit consumers and oil-reliant industries, even as it boosts revenues for oil producing states.

  • As the Wall Street Journal notes in a weekend piece about $100 chatter, "more expensive oil could threaten U.S. corporate profits and indirectly push prices for a variety of goods higher."
  • Bloomberg tallies winners and losers here.

What's next: If the trajectory stays upward in coming weeks, it could create political headwinds for Republicans and tempt the White House to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

But, but, but: A Barclays research note this morning suggests that maybe everyone should just chill out.

  • "[W]e continue to believe that prices are ripe for a correction," writes analyst Michael Cohen, though he notes prices could keep climbing in the near-term.
  • "The rally could go even further this month, leading US policymakers, consumers, OPEC, and Saudi Arabia to react. In our view, softening demand growth and new supply should cool the bullish sentiment and push prices lower by the end of the year," Cohen writes.
  • Barclays has slightly adjusted its price forecasts upward. They now see Brent averaging $77 in the fourth quarter, compared to $72 in a prior forecast.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.