The price of oil rose 2 percent Thursday on lower U.S. inventories and concerns that geopolitical tensions could disrupt global supplies.
Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery rose $1.99 to close at $103.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the Nymex contract added $1.24 to close at $101.20.
Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 72 cents to close at $107.89 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
A series of geopolitical events pushed prices higher by raising concern that oil supplies could be disrupted, even though no disruptions were imminent. The Obama Administration announced new sanctions against Russian energy firms after the market closed on Wednesday, including against Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer. While analysts say it is unlikely to cause any dip in production or exports in the short term, it could prevent or delay future exploration and production.
The crash of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over Ukraine — which Ukrainian officials said was shot down — raised the risk of a sharper conflict between Ukraine and Russia that could lead to even tighter sanctions against Russia. And fighting in the Gaza strip intensified after a shaky cease-fire expired, yet another source of turmoil in the Middle East, the world's most important oil-producing region.