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Oil soars above $100 after Putin declares war on Ukraine

Oil prices broke through a key threshold on Thursday after Russia invaded Ukraine. Photo: Dongxu Fang / Costfoto/Sipa USA
Oil prices broke through a key threshold on Thursday after Russia invaded Ukraine. Photo: Dongxu Fang / Costfoto/Sipa USA

Oil prices broke through $100 (£74.15) a barrel on Thursday after Russian president Vladimir Putin launched the Kremlin's long-anticipated war on Ukraine.

Brent crude (BZ=F) soared as high as 8.9% to $105.44pb on Thursday before retreating to $104.2, this is the first time the benchmark broke through $100 since mid-2004.

West Texas Intermediate (CL=F) was not far behind, reaching 8.8% higher to $100.21. It is currently up 6% to $97.66.

Analysts say brent is in "super backwardation" – a signal that the current price is too high.

"Should the current futures curve structure prevail over the next few months, market prices indicate roll return potential north of 10% over 12 months, in addition to any spot returns," said Giovanni Staunovo, Dominic Schnider, and Wayne Gordon, strategists at UBS Global Wealth Management.

Russia is among the world’s biggest suppliers of oil, as well as the biggest exporter of wheat and a major producer of metals such as palladium, aluminium and nickel.

Read more: What Ukraine invasion means for consumer prices in the UK

On Thursday, there were reports of missile strikes on various targets around Ukrainian cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro, and heavy fighting as Russian troops unleashed an attack on the country.

Prior to the attack, Putin had announced a "special military operation" at dawn, amid warnings from world leaders that it could spark the biggest war in Europe since 1945. Within minutes of his short televised address, at about 5am Ukrainian time, explosions were heard near major Ukrainian cities.

Ukrainian president Dmytro Kuleba said Putin had "launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine" and called on the world to "act now" and "stop" the Russian president.

Read more: How Russia's war on Ukraine is impacting stock prices

"Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win," he added.

Brent was 7.7% to $104.2 on Thursday afternoon in London. Graph: Yahoo Finance
Brent was 7.7% to $104.2 on Thursday afternoon in London. Graph: Yahoo Finance

Shares in oil giants BP (BP.L) and Shell (SHEL.L) fell on Thursday despite oil climbing. BP crashed as much as 4.2%, while rival Shell reversed a decline of 2% in early trading in London to rise 1.1%.

BP was 3.9% lower to 368p on Thursday close in London. Graph: Yahoo Finance
BP was 3.9% lower to 368p on Thursday close in London. Graph: Yahoo Finance

The Ukraine invasion comes with crude already tight, owing to a pick-up in demand as global economies reopen after the COVID pandemic.

Last week, oil prices experienced their first weekly decline since mid-December, despite hitting a seven-year high earlier this month.

Other commodities also rose on the invasion. The Kremlin is a major metals producer, and produces 6% of the world’s aluminium, and 7% of its mined nickel.

Read more: The Russian banks and billionaires targeted by UK sanctions

Aluminium (ALI=F) prices rose to a record, eclipsing a 2008 record, amid investor concerns over supplies from Russia, and an impact on production from higher energy prices.

Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange jumped to an all-time high of $3,443 a tonne, and is currently trading 4% higher at $3,453.25.

Nickel climbed 3.4% to $25,220 a tonne, after hitting its highest level since May 2011 to $25,240.

Natural gas (NG=F) surged 6.1% on the news. It comes after Germany pulled the plug on a major gas project, the $11bn Nord Stream 2 pipeline owned by the Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom earlier this week.

Watch: Why are gas prices rising?