Mount­ing ten­sions leave oil prices in flux

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Cathy Bussewitz and Michelle Chapman

NEW YORK» A rare mix of geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions in the Mid­dle East and China is tug­ging oil prices in op­po­site direc­tions and cre­at­ing un­cer­tainty over where they might land.

De­te­ri­o­rat­ing trade talks be­tween the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, are pos­ing a se­ri­ous threat to global eco­nomic growth. And when­ever that growth sput­ters, de­mand for oil and gaso­line typ­i­cally craters.

But es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions in the Mid­dle East and else­where could threaten oil sup­ply, which could push the price of oil and gaso­line higher. In the past week, the United Arab Emi­rates has al­leged four oil tankers off its east coast were tar­geted in sab­o­tage at­tacks. At the same time, Saudi Ara­bia has ac­cused Iran of be­ing be­hind a drone at­tack that shut down a key oil pipeline in the king­dom.

Mean­while, the U.S. has dis­patched war­ships and bombers to the re­gion to counter an al­leged threat from Iran, whose econ­omy is reel­ing from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion last year to with­draw the U.S. from the 2015 nu­clear ac­cord and im­pose wide-reach­ing sanc­tions.

“Ten­sions are high, and I think the chance of fur­ther es­ca­la­tion is prob­a­bly pretty good as well,” said Ryan Fitz­mau­rice, en­ergy strate­gist at Rabobank. “If any of th­ese is­sues flare up, prices could in­crease sharply . ... If you have a

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