A Twitter message by the Israel Defense Forces commemorating an Israeli bombing raid 40 years ago spooked oil traders Thursday, sending prices spiraling upward on the old news.
The tweet reported on Israeli bombing raids on Syrian airports to stop Soviet weapons transfers and carried the hashtag #YomKippur73, intended to clue readers in that this was part of a series of messages by the IDF commemorating the war.
Instead, international Brent traders misread the tweet as a clue that oil would soon become scarcer, and began buying, sending the price from $110.40 a barrel to $111.50, according to Reuters.
Oil prices in the US also rose by over a dollar to close at $103, spurred by the tweet and other news out of the Mideast and Washington.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) October 10, 2013
John Kilduff, a founding partner of hedge fund Again Capital, told AFP he saw the news on an online energy trading forum without the hashtag, making it look like a fresh attack.
“There was confusion on that tweet and it got bandied about as a new attack,” he said.
The IDF indicated it believed the confusion was unwarranted.
“Obviously this was part of our Yom Kippur Twitter series. The facts are there and simple to read. It was apparent within the tweet itself,” IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner told Reuters.
Prices did not go any lower once traders realized their mistake, staying high and gaining a few more cents on the rally, which began earlier in the morning on the news that Libya’s prime minister had been kidnapped. The price eventually closed at $111.80, up $2.74 for the day.
“The rumor seems to have got stuff going,” one trader told Reuters.
The actual Yom Kippur War in 1973 sent oil costs surging as well, after OPEC nations decided to embargo the US in response to Washington’s decision to arm Israel.