Oil exchange traded funds jumped Thursday and are now testing their short-term trend lines, after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies bombarded Yemen, triggering speculation that the conflict would interrupt oil supplies in the region.
The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate oil, rose 4.9% Thursday and the United States Brent Oil Fund (NYSEArca: BNO) increased 3.6%. Both USO and BNO are now trading above their 50-day simple moving average.
Meanwhile, WTI crude oil futures were up 3.5%, trading back to $50.9 per barrel, while Brent crude oil futures gained 4.4% to $59 per barrel.
The U.S. energy sector was also slightly turning around on the surge in oil prices and positive turn in the equities market mid-Thursday, with the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) up 0.2% and SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSEArca: XOP) 1.2% higher.
Fueling the spike in energy Thursday, Saudi Arabia spearheaded a strike against Houthi rebels, who drove the president out of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, reports Barani Krishnan for Reuters.
While the strike has not affected oil facilities of producers in the region and Yemen’s small oil output has been unstable for months, energy traders are concerned that the conflict could disrupt Middle East oil shipments.
Specifically, Arab producers ship their crude past the Yemen coastline through the Gulf of Aden toward the Suez Canal, a major passageway to European markets. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has designated the less than 25 mile wide waters between Yemen and Djibouti as a “chokepoint” for global oil supply that funneled 3.8 million barrels per day in 2013.