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Crude Oil Futures Soar

A U.S. missile treaty with Poland that Russia opposes has given the energy markets jitters.

Crude futures were soaring on the New York Mercantile Exchange on heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a missile-defense treaty with Poland on Wednesday.

West Texas crude for October delivery was recently trading $5.79 higher at $121.35 a barrel, and Brent was gaining $5.85 at $120.21 a barrel. Reformulated gasoline was adding 14 cents at $3.05 a gallon, heating oil was up 16 cents at $3.33 a gallon, and near-term natural gas was climbing 24 cents at $8.31 per million British thermal units.

Russia has adamantly insisted that Poland not be a participant in the missile defense shield since the program was first proposed. Yesterday's treaty signing -- a clear reaction by the U.S. to Russia's invasion of neighboring Georgia - indicates that the U.S. has renewed its focus on Russia as a major geopolitical threat.

The enhanced geopolitical risks associated with Russia's recent actions could have enormous consequences for energy markets. Russia is the world's largest producer of natural gas and the second largest producer of crude oil. Europe is largely dependent on Russian energy supplies for survival.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were rallying midway through the U.S. trading session.

BP

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was up 1.4% at $58.23,

ConocoPhillips

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was advancing 3.3% at $83.55,

Chevron

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was 2.2% higher at $88.32, and

Exxon Mobil

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was up 2.2% at $80.55.

The

U.S. Oil Fund

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, an exchange-traded fund that closely tracks the performance of WTI futures contracts on the Nymex, was recently up 4.3% at $98.