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A semi submersible oil rig. Photo: Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images

Crude oil prices jumped Wednesday thanks to new data showing more shrinkage of the U.S. oil stockpile and signs that OPEC and Russia are continuing their tight supply policy.

Why it matters: The price surge 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 new: WTI, the U.S. benchmark, surged by well over $1 a barrel, to above $68 — the highest since late 2014 — in trading Wednesday before easing somewhat. Brent crude, the international benchmark, also reached three-year highs well above $73-per-barrel before also backing off slightly at midday.

Buzz: Reuters reports today that Saudi Arabia, OPEC's dominant producer, is keen to see prices climb much higher. Citing three industry sources, they report that the kingdom is "happy to see crude rise to $80 or even $100 a barrel."

Reuters sources say the Saudis have gotten more hawkish on prices due to their "desire to support the valuation of state oil company Aramco ahead of the kingdom’s planned sale of a minority stake in an initial public offering."

One level deeper: A couple of specific things that traders are responding to . . .

  • Inventories: The U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly report late this morning showed that U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell by a million barrels last week. More broadly, the latest data comes after last week's International Energy Agency report that OECD oil stockpiles are nearly down to their five-year average, a key indicator of the global supply glut going away.
  • OPEC plans: A committee monitoring the OPEC agreement with outside producers meets in Saudi Arabia on Friday, ahead of the wider OPEC meeting in June. Per Bloomberg, "while looming political crises threaten to tighten supplies further, the group seems determined to keep its cuts in place."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

The latest: Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Hollywood union reaches deal with studios to avert strike

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

A Hollywood workers' union reached a tentative deal with studios, networks and streamers that will guarantee better working conditions, meal breaks and increased wages for low-paid workers, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced Saturday night.

Why it matters: The deal, which still needs to be ratified by IATSE members, will avert a nationwide strike by film and television workers that was set to start Monday. It would have been the first strike in the union's 128-year history.

Bill Clinton released from hospital following treatment for non-COVID infection

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was discharged from the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Sunday, nearly a week after he was admitted for a non-COVID-related infection, according to his spokesperson Angel Ureña.

What they're saying: "His fever and white blood cell count are normalized and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics," wrote Dr. Alpesh Amin, who has been overseeing the team of doctors treating Clinton. "On behalf of everyone at UC Irvine Medical Center, we were honored to have treated him and will continue to monitor his progress."

Worth noting: Clinton had a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream, per CNN.

  • The California-based medical team had been administering IV antibiotics and fluids, and was in constant communication with Clinton's New York team, including his cardiologist, according to the former president's physicians.
  • President Biden spoke by phone with Clinton on Friday to see how he was doing, and the catch-up included a discussion of recent politics.

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