Oil Prices Rise Based on Tweet about 40-Year-Old Yom Kippur War

Saturday, October 12, 2013
Bombed headquarters in Damascus, Syria, during Yom Kippur War

What a difference a tweet can make.


Traders on Wall Street, who are prone to make hair-trigger decisions, started buying up oil on Thursday after many of them misread a Twitter message about the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.


On October 10, 1973, Syria and Egypt launched a two-pronged sneak attack on Israel during the holiest of Jewish holidays. The invasions failed, as Israeli forces beat back both enemies.


To commemorate that victory, the Israeli Defense Forces this week posted multiple tweets on key moments from the war, including this one: “Oct. 10 #YomKippur73: Israel Air Force bombards airports in Syria to prevent Soviet weapons reaching the Syrian Army.”


Despite the fact that the message included the date 1973 and a reference to the long-gone Soviet Union, traders mistook the Twitter post as indication Israel had just attacked Syria. This mistaken assumption led them to worry that the supply of petroleum might shrink, which prompted a buying spree that raised the barrel price of oil by $1.


But even after traders realized the tweet wasn’t about a current event, oil prices (which had been at a pre-tweet price of $110.40 per barrel) went up even higher, to $111.74.


Reuters reported that traders, buoyed by the day’s news that the United States might avoid defaulting on its debts and that the current Libya situation wasn’t so bad after all, couldn’t help themselves and just kept purchasing oil shares.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Price of Oil Just Went Up Because Traders Misread a Tweet (by Max Fisher, Washington Post)

Tweet Recalling Yom Kippur War, 40 Years On, Jolts Oil Traders (by Matthew Robinson, Reuters)

Irish and British Tourists Sent Home over “Threatening” Tweet (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)          

Chinese Blogger Tweets His Own Arrest (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)  


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