Oil prices jump after US-UK airstrikes on Yemen

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Washington and London have responded to Houthi attacks on ships passing through the Red Sea

Crude oil prices have gained more than 4% on Friday after the US and UK carried out a series of strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the latter’s attacks on ships traversing the Red Sea.   

Global benchmark Brent futures had risen by 4.08% to trade at $80.52 per barrel as of around 11:30 GMT. The US benchmark WTI was up 4.17% to about $75 per barrel. Both benchmarks were adding to gains of nearly 1% during the previous trading session, putting them on track for a second straight weekly rise.

On Friday, Houthi spokesman Abdulsalam Jahaf claimed that Washington and London had launched attacks on Yemen, striking the cities of Sanaa, Hodeidah, among others. US President Joe Biden subsequently confirmed the strikes, adding that they were in response to Houthi militant attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

“These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes,” Biden said in a statement.

The Yemen-based Houthis have been attacking commercial cargo ships in the Red Sea since October to show support for Palestinian militant group Hamas in its fight against Israel. As a result, the key Asia-to-Europe trade route that accounts for nearly 15% of global shipping traffic has been disrupted.

Several global shipping giants have begun diverting their vessels away from the Red Sea for the foreseeable future, sending them instead on the longer journey around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The rerouting has sent container freight rates skyrocketing.

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