New year begins with oil market 'perfect storm'

Are oil markets approaching a "perfect storm" in terms of oil prices—where a sudden confluence of factors creates conditions for oil prices reaching levels that can be described only in the context of crisis?There are a number of reasons that oil prices shot up by almost $5/bbl in the first 3 weeks of December and remain more than 50% above year-ago levels:A surge in oil demand—unrelated to the state of the economy, it should be noted—owing to increased heating oil consumption prompted by the early winter storms across much of North America and to increased fuel oil use spurred by safety-related shutdowns of nuclear plants in Japan.Proliferating reports that Al Qaeda or ...

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