Will oil keep going higher? The oil minister of Saudi Arabia thinks so, even though OPEC does not appear ready to change its production targets in the near future.
According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi believes that demand and not supply is what will drive oil higher, but he notes, "The problem is the market, that the demand is only in one place -- Asia and that's all."
Many leading economists see the U.S. and other large countries emerging from a recession as early as the end of the year. If that happens, OPEC does not need to do anything of significance for the price of crude to rise.
OPEC must have one important concern. If oil rises sharply before the end of the recession, prices of crude and its by-products, including gasoline, could spike up and undermine business and consumer spending. That could push the economy into the second phase of what would be a "double dip" recession. Under those circumstances, the demand for crude would likely fall and oil would head down from $60 where it trades now.
It's a tricky balancing act.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.