Oil price soars to highest level in years on Mideast woes
London: Oil surged today close to 3.5-year peaks on simmering Mideast tensions and keen US demand, while London stocks rose with drugmaker Shire boosted by a reported takeover move.
World oil prices extended on Wednesday's gains on the back of data showing a drop in US stockpiles -- indicating improved demand -- and expectations that a Russia-OPEC output cap deal will be kept in place.
The market was also propelled after OPEC kingpin reportedly stated it wanted crude prices to top $80 per barrel as it prepares for a gigantic listing of part of its state oil company.
Tensions in the oil-rich Middle East also kept prices elevated.
"Saudi Arabia still calls the shots on global oil markets, and it is increasingly obvious the Saudis are comfortable with oil at $80 or more," said Interactive Investor analyst Lee Wild.
"Add a drop in weekly US oil reserves to the mix and the only way for crude prices is up." In early morning deals, oil surged to summits last seen in November 2014 before paring gains.
London Brent struck $74.44 per barrel and New York crude touched $69.27.
European equity markets meanwhile diverged amid lingering fears over Syria and a possible China-US trade war, but London rose 0.2 per cent despite news of sliding March retail sales.
The British capital's benchmark FTSE 100 index was given a shot in the arm from media reports that Japan's Takeda Pharmaceuticals was mulling a takeover tilt at Shire.
Shire, which is based in Ireland and listed on the London stock market, saw its share price rocket 6.19 per cent to 3,986.5 pence.
Both companies have yet to comment on the latest takeover speculation, but Takeda had stated in March that it was considering the purchase of Shire.
Asian markets enjoyed another day of gains on Thursday as the region's energy firms also tracked a surge in oil prices.
Fresh hopes that Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un will hold a historic summit within months also provided some much-needed optimism.