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Crude oil prices rallied on Monday, Oct. 16, as the potential for conflict in Iraq threatened to cut off exports. Reports indicated Iraqi forces have descended upon Kirkuk, a major oil-producing region in Iraq. The area had been occupied by Kurdish fighters. Troubles in the region have risen since a referendum in with the Kurds voted for independence.

Iraq is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a cartel that has agreed to limit production to address a global supply-demand imbalance.

Prices were also higher after President Donald Trump refused to certify that Iran was complying with a nuclear agreement. Trump also called for new sanctions against Iran. Previous sanctions had taken roughly 1 million barrels of oil per day out of global supply.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 0.8% to $51.86 a barrel on Monday.

The energy sector was the best performer on Monday. Major oil companies were higher, including Chevron Corp. (CVX) , Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) , ConocoPhillips (COP) , PetroChina Co. Ltd. (PTR) , Total SA (TOT) , BP PLC (BP)  and Statoil ASA (STO) . The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) increased 0.5%.

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