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Doha delusions

Unless the freeze becomes cuts its significance is minimal and efforts to keep talking up the market could backfire

Nothing gets the oil press’s pulses racing like signs of Saudi supply constraint – more so if it comes with whiffs of wider machination. Moscow and Riyadh doing a deal over Syria to lift oil prices? It doesn’t get juicier. As a way to explain Brent’s 28% rise from mid-February to $40/b on 23 March, the freeze agreed between the two countries in Doha on 16 February (and including Qatar and Venezuela) looks plausible. The kingdom seems willing at last to broach supply-side management. Oil minister Ali al-Naimi says the freeze is “the beginning of a process”. On 17 April, several more producers will supposedly arrive in Doha to discuss a broader agreement. Under any scrutiny, though, the Doha

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