Oil prices post biggest rise for 12 years as global economy roars back

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Oil prices have posted their biggest annual gains in 12 years after investors bet that surging omicron cases will not be enough to derail the global economic recovery.

US oil, or West Texas Intermediate, ended the year at almost $76 a barrel, up 27pc in its biggest rise since 2009 when the world was still recovering from the financial crisis. 

Europe’s Brent crude benchmark climbed 52pc to $78, its best performance in five years.

The jumps came as the FTSE 100 achieved its biggest one-year gain since 2016, rising 14.3pc but falling behind the global average.

Despite wobbles spurred by Covid variants and fears that central banks could rein in huge levels of monetary easing, investors continued to embrace risky assets during 2021 on hopes of rapid global growth as the threat from Covid fades away.

Prices paid for oil, a bellwether for global economic activity, have come off slightly from the peaks hit in October, following efforts to increase supply amid an energy crisis afflicting many countries.

The recovery is nonetheless remarkable after a historic crash when the crisis first hit. West Texas prices briefly made an unprecedented move below zero as demand collapsed and suppliers ran out of room to store oil, forcing them to pay traders to take it off their hands.

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