Middle East worries push oil even higher

 
Steve Dinneen
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OIL prices jumped to their highest close in two and a half years yesterday, with Brent near a record quarterly rise of more than $22.

The news follows further unrest across the Middle East. US officials said President Barack Obama has now authorised covert support for Libyan rebels fighting Gaddafi.

The defection of Libya’s foreign minister to the UK has also potentially tipped the scales of power toward the opposition.

Recently, Gaddafi’s troops have used superior arms to push back rebels trying to edge west from their stronghold in eastern Libya.

The UK hopes to gain intelligence on how to bring down Gaddafi from foreign minister Moussa Koussa, a former spy chief who flew into Britain on Wednesday in what a friend said was a defection in protest at attacks by Gaddafi’s forces on civilians.

Meanwhile, William Hague called on the Syrian government to show restraint as protesters campaigning for political reform plan another rally today. He also said it is vital Syria immediately adopts “serious political reforms”.

The Foreign Office yesterday advised all British nationals to leave Yemen while commercial airlines are still flying. A spokesman said: “It is highly unlikely that the government will be able to evacuate British nationals or provide consular assistance in the event of a further breakdown of law and order.”

Brent crude for May rose $2.23 to settle at $117.36 a barrel, its highest close since August 2008 and up 23.9 per cent for the quarter.

FAST FACTS | YEMEN

Britons have been warned to leave Yemen and not travel to the country in the wake of violent protests.

At least 82 people have been killed in the country since protests started.