Crude futures moved higher again Friday as news of aggression between Israel and Syria continued to reverberate through the energy market.

The October light sweet crude contract gained 40 cents to close at $76.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Reformulated gasoline edged 1.5 cents higher to $1.99 a gallon. Heating oil rose a penny to $2.15 a gallon.

Natural gas slid 15 cents to $5.50 per million British thermal units.

The Middle East remains on alert after Syria reported Thursday that Israeli fighter planes had illegally entered its airspace and dropped ordnance. "With this kind of geopolitical instability, no one wants to be short on oil going into the weekend," says Brandon DiTullio, commodities broker at Nextsource Trading.

Fundamentally, there is little data to support the currently high price of oil, according to DiTullio. This hypothesis is supported by the structure of the crude futures curve -- the December contract is selling for more than $2 less than the October contract.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were broadly lower. Exxon Mobil ( XOM - Get Report) dropped 2% to $85.75, and Marathon Oil ( MRO - Get Report) plummeted 3.7% to $54.51.

Among stocks with ratings changes, Occidental ( OXY - Get Report) was upgraded by Deutsche Securities to buy from hold, but the stock slipped 0.1% to $59.03.

Patterson-UTI ( PTEN - Get Report) was upgraded by Bernstein to outperform from market perform. Still, its shares were little changed at $21.95. Nabors ( NBR - Get Report) was also upgraded by Bernstein to outperform from market perform. Its stock climbed 0.3% to $30.40.