Oil flirting with $60 as reality of slow recovery sets in

Assuming 'rogue' traders aren't distorting the markets, the price of oil is set by simple supply and demand forces. Or at least, by what traders believe the forces would amount to. An attack on a Nigerian oil field that threatens the world's oil supply would push prices up, while news of growing unemployment that could affect demand would push them down.

Still, simple as it sounds, sometimes there's just too much news pushing, pulling and affecting supply and demand forces in all direction. Take today, for example. While crude prices ended up closing higher, they wavered around $60 per barrel following news of tepid retail sales and soaring continuing jobless claims. Consumers, fearing job losses and being bombarded by bad economic news daily, are cutting back. On everything.