Oil prices rose to their highest level since mid-2015 today as large anti-government protests continued in Iran.
Brent crude prices were up 0.22 per cent at $67.02 per barrel this morning after hitting $67.27 earlier in the day, a high not seen since May 2015. The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), was up 0.35 per cent at $60.63 at the time of writing after hitting a June 2015 high of $60.73 earlier.
The rises marked the first time since January 2014 that both Brent and WTI opened the year above $60 a barrel.
In Iran, protests against economic struggles and alleged corruption continued for a fifth day today, with almost 500 people arrested and 13 people reported killed.
"Iran is one of the biggest Middle Eastern members of Opec [Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] and the current turmoil in the country could potentially have a much larger impact on the oil price," said Naeem Aslam, the chief market analyst at Think Markets.
Prices were also supported by an Opec-led agreement to reduce oil production by 1.8m barrels per day (bpd) until the end of 2018. The cuts made by Opec and other producers including Russia last year helped bolster prices, with Brent crude rising 17 per cent in 2017, according to Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.
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