LONDON , Jan 20 – Oil was lower on Thursday as investors took profits after a recent rise in prices, but strong demand and short-term supply disruptions continued to lend support to push the barrel closer to the highest since 2014.
* By 1043 GMT , Brent crude futures were down 43 cents, or 0.49%, at $88.01 a barrel, after losing more than a dollar in early trading. The global benchmark rose to $89.17 on Wednesday, its highest since October 2014.
* US West Texas Intermediate ( WTI ) futures for February delivery were down 39 cents, or 0.45%, at $86.57 a barrel, after falling nearly a dollar earlier. The contract, which expires on Thursday, climbed as high as $87.91 on Wednesday.
* The more active March expiring WTI contract was down 15 cents, or 0.1%, at $85.65 a barrel.
* “The voices of those predicting $100 a barrel of oil are getting louder,” said Tamas Varga of the PVM oil brokerage .
* Supply concerns have increased this week after a fire temporarily halted flows through a pipeline from the Iraqi town of Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on Tuesday.
* Likewise, an attack by Yemen’s Houthis against the United Arab Emirates, the third largest producer of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC ), increased geopolitical risks.
* The market is also supported by tight supply from the OPEC + producer group, made up of OPEC and its allies led by Russia. The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that the group produced about 800,000 barrels a day below its production targets for December.
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