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Opec looks East

IF $80/b oil is a threat to the US economy, as some analysts claim, then prepare for a rocky few months. The world's dominant producers are in no mood to soften the market, even as it threatens to breach $85/b

Opec's decision to roll over existing oil-output quotas was no surprise, but it still reinforced the prevailing sentiment. Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister, said the group was "comfortable" with prices, despite their heady level at almost $10/b more than Opec's price target. Other Opec ministers were just as content and argued – plausibly – that the group had brought stability to global oil markets following the collapse in prices of 2008 (PE 10/10 p24). Later that year, Opec slashed its quotas by 4.2m b/d and declared it would seek a "fair price" of around $75/b. The group's basket of crudes has averaged around that price in the past year (see Figure 1). Now, however, some of Opec'

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