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Business

Oil prices hit half-year high

Supply disruptions have pushed up the price of Brent Crude to a six-month-high, fueling speculation of a looming end to the oil price slump that sent many a commodities-based economy around the world reeling.

A massive wildfire burning around the oil sands hub of

Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada

has been rapidly moving north, requiring the evacuation of thousands of people from work camps around major oil sand projects.

At the same time,

Nigerian troops have arrested several in relation to an attack on an offshore oil facility,

while the government sought to negotiate a deal with union leaders to hold off a far-reaching strike over the oil price hikes.

A Goldman Sachs report had also predicted a short-term supply deficit, due to production outages similar to those in Nigeria and

crisis-stricken Venezuela.

The news of a supply rollback caused global stocks to rise on Tuesday, with energy firms being among the big winners.

Trend reversal?

"People are looking for any signs possible to confirm that supply is decreasing so any news of unplanned outages gets the market particular excited," said BMI Research oil and gas analyst Peter Lee. "A break above $50 in the next few days is very possible. In the second half of the year, oil is likely to hold between $45 to $50 a barrel."

But other industry observers are reluctant to call the increase in oil prices a sustained recovery, pointing out that oil is still flooding the market.

"Admittedly, these disruptions are large enough that the rebalancing in the market expected in the second half of the year may already be happening," research firm Capital Economics said.

"However, prices could quickly drop back again once at least some of this supply comes back on stream. In the meantime, global stocks remain ample."

jd/hg (AFP, dpa)

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