Iran, OPEC, & Nigeria push oil futures from 4-week low

By Hilton Price

Concerns over Iran and Nigeria, as well as OPEC’s 2012 forecast, pushed oil futures up from the lower price in almost 4 weeks Thursday. Futures rose more than 1 percent after sliding nearly 3 percent last week.

Conflicts in the world’s oil-producing countries are being tied to the price jump. Iran has continued threatening to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping artery in the Middle East. Protests lasting several weeks have been suspended in Nigeria, after the country’s President cut gas prices there.

OPEC’s forecast for 2012 is also being tied to the futures increase. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries kept its demand predictions for the new year unchanged, and reports show the organization’s production is at its highest since late 2008.

Crude prices for February delivery rose as much as $1.10 to $99.80 a barrel in electronic trading. There is no floor trading in New York today because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

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