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Donald Trump reignites Opec spat over 'too high' oil prices

Jillian Ambrose
Donald Trump - REUTERS

US President Donald Trump has reignited his spat with the world’s largest oil producers as surging oil prices take their toll on US manufacturing and industry.

Mr Trump used Twitter to accuse the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries of being “at it again”, in a fresh verbal attack on the cartel which he blames for the faster than expected oil price recovery.

The benchmark price of crude has surged from around $50 a barrel last summer to within a breath of $80 a barrel a few weeks ago.

The price surge is taking a toll on heavy-energy users in the US, where the producer-price index rose by 0.5pc in May from a month earlier, according to the latest data from the US labor department.

The report revealed that overall prices increased 3.1pc in May from a year earlier, the largest annual increase since 2012. Prices excluding food and energy rose by 2.4pc and prices excluding food, energy and trade services climbed 2.6pc.

The higher than expected index hike emerged ahead of the summer driving season where motorists are also likely to be stung at the pumps.

“Oil prices are too high, Opec is at it again. Not good!”, Mr Trump told his 53 million Twitter followers.

The outburst follows a warning from the President earlier this year that “artificially very high” oil prices would not be accepted.

Mr Trump tweeted at the time: “Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!”

The latest warning comes days before a key make or break meeting of Opec and its allies.

Opec and non-Opec producers, led by Russia, will meet in Vienna next week to decide whether the pact to cut 1.72 million barrels of oil production a day should remain intact after 17 months of restraint.

The closely monitored plan was put in place to help the market recover from one of the deepest ever oil price routs. But oil markets have quickened the pace of recovery in recent months due to involuntary cuts from Venezuela and jitters over the future production of Iran under US sanctions.