Trickle Down

Jitters over teetering oil prices

The spot markets for oil, where tanker-size shipments are traded on a day-to-day basis, normally bustle with buying and selling. Last week, however, they seemed almost paralyzed by uncertainty. Only a fortnight ago, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had failed to reach agreement on a plan to prop up oil prices by curbing production. That dramatic breakdown induced a kind of suspended animation. The cost of crude seemed sure to fall, but no one could be certain how far or how fast. While a few oil producers made their opening moves last week, others held back...

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