Oil Prices Spike Amid U.S.-Led Airstrikes

The price of oil increased Friday after the United States bombed sites controlled by Houthi rebels in Yemen. The spike came amid fears that the current situation in the Middle East may escalate, including further attacks on shipping transiting the Suez Canal.

Oil prices increased to more than $80 a barrel late this week. This is the first time in 2024 that the price of oil reached this milestone.

Overall prices increased by more than 4% on news of the strikes.

The concern includes both the transit of goods through the Red Sea and the risk of a wider Middle Eastern conflict. The Red Sea connects Europe’s Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean and many African and Asian markets. On Friday, Houthi rebels attacked a Russian oil freighter in the Red Sea.

The increase in fuel prices comes as much of the United States is currently facing severely low temperatures. The price hike also came after a moderate decline in the cost of gasoline and heating oil.

The group vowed retaliation against the United States and the United Kingdom following the airstrikes.

The situation in the Middle East has become less stable over the last month. Rocket and drone attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East have continued. The Pentagon announced several waves of airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq in retaliation.

Furthermore, Houthi attacks on shipping and U.S. Navy vessels appear to be accelerating. On several occasions, Navy destroyers shot down a number of missiles and drones launched from Yemen.

The military also prevented an attempted hijacking in the Red Sea. Earlier in the conflict, the Houthi rebels hijacked a trading vessel linked to Israel.

The group also launched a number of missiles and drones against Israel, some of which was shot down by the U.S. Navy.

The Houthis and Hamas share a common benefactor in the Islamic Republic of Iran. That country lost a significant general in an Israeli airstrike earlier this month. The country also saw bombings attack the anniversary procession of slain Iranian official Qassem Soleimani, who was killed under orders of President Donald Trump in 2020.