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Forecasting the oil price, as I’ve often said, is a mug’s game. But the cost of the black stuff is so important – central not just to transport and electricity generation, but also agriculture, the production of plastics and synthetics and so much else – that any self-respecting economist simply must take a view.

“In the absence of a major financial meltdown, oil will end 2016 north of $60 a barrel,” this column asserted at the turn of the year, possibly after one Christmas brandy too many. Despite yuletide excess, I’m sticking to that view.

Last week oil jumped above $44 – it’s highest level so far in 2016. Having sunk to a 12-year low in mid-February, crude prices have since risen 40pc. The Opec oil exporters’ cartel is now trying to forge an output-limiting agreement, ending a two-year supply glut and pushing prices further up. So, all eyes are on today’s Opec summit in Doha.

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