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

Misinformation thrives on social media ahead of presidential debate

Joe Biden speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sept. 27. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

A baseless conspiracy theory that Joe Biden would wear an electronic device in his ear during the first presidential debate on Tuesday went viral on social media hours before the event.

Why it matters: The conspiracy originated on social media before appearing in a text message sent by President Trump’s re-election campaign to supporters. It was then regurgitated by media outlets like Fox News and New York Post, who cited the Trump campaign, throughout the day, according to NBC News.

Appeals court upholds six-day extension for counting Wisconsin ballots

Photo: Derek R. Henkle/AFP via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that extended the deadline for counting mail-in ballots in Wisconsin until Nov. 9 as long as they are postmarked by the Nov. 3 election, AP reports.

Why it matters: It's a big win for Democrats that also means that the winner of Wisconsin, a key presidential swing state, may not be known for six days after the election. Republicans are likely to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, as the Pennsylvania GOP did after a similar ruling on Monday.

Go deeper: How the Supreme Court could decide the election

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 33,489,205 — Total deaths: 1,004,278 — Total recoveries: 23,243,613Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m ET: 7,183,367 — Total deaths: 205,883 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.
  7. Work: United States of burnout — Asian American unemployment spikes amid pandemic

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