HONG KONG — Oil prices spiked after the U.S. launched a missile strike on a Syrian government target.
U.S. crude futures jumped more than 2% in Friday morning trading in Asia after President Trump ordered the first direct American military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The strike, in which U.S. warships fired 50 to 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian government airbase, ramps up uncertainty in the oil-rich and politically unstable Middle East.
“Geopolitics are often big drivers in oil markets,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader. “The U.S. strike against a regime that is backed by the Russians, and in a country where the Iranians are active as well supporting the regime has the potential to cause further political ructions.”
The potential reactions from Iran and Russia, both major oil producers, “will keep oil traders on edge,” he said. “That uncertainty supports prices … in the very immediate term.”
Syria itself is not a major oil producer, but the country is uncomfortably close to the Strait of Hormuz — a critical chokepoint through which millions of barrels of oil are shipped each day.
Trump said the missile strike was in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on civilians earlier this week that the U.S. says was carried out by the Syrian government.