Brent surges more than 3 percent as China calms trade war jitters

Brent crude prices were at $72.46 us a barrel, up $1.42, or 2% from Tuesday's closing price, the highest level since December 2, 2014, when it hit $73.03. Crude oil inventories were significantly higher than estimates (+3.3m vs. -0.2m expected).

According to RBC's Helima Croft, the oil market attention is now turned more to potential escalation of conflicts in the Middle East-including in Syria and the Saudi-Iran tensions and proxy war in Yemen-rather than to fears of a trade war that have subsided over the past day.

Crude Oil WTI Futures for May delivery were trading at $65.38 a barrel in Asia at 11:00PM ET (03:00 GMT), down 0.20%.

Oil climbed further as broadcaster Al Arabiya said Saudi Arabia's air defense forces intercepted a missile over the capital Riyadh.

Oil prices closed at a three-year high on Thursday, reversing losses as traders gauged rising geopolitical risks in the Middle East against higher production in other parts of the world.

Whilst Syria is not a major oil exporter, with reduced production since the start of the war, its core allies Iran and Russian Federation are both major global producers.

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However, remarks from China's foreign ministry and a tweet from Trump have suggested that the dispute could easily heat up again. Crude futures are on track for the highest close since 2014.

Both U.S. crude and global benchmark Brent traded at the highest levels since 2014 as geopolitical concerns overshadowed a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories.

Oil markets were also supported by easing concerns over a prolonged trade spat between the United States and China after Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday gave a speech with a conciliatory tone.

WTI also reached a peak of $105 per barrel in June 2014 before the sharp drop in oil prices.

Oil market observers are looking ahead to monthly reports from OPEC and the International Energy Agency, due Thursday and Friday, respectively, with an eye to potential revisions on the global oil demand. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, meanwhile, reported that total member state output declined by an average 200,000 barrels per day last month.

The threat came after the Russian ambassador to Lebanon said his nation's military would intercept American missiles and potentially target the USA craft that fired them.

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