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Buy on the Nigeria rumour, sell on the Niger fact

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OilNigeriaConfusion over the names of two similar-sounding African countries may have helped boosted oil prices to near $80 a barrel this week as traders rushed to buy oil after reports of a military coup.

A Reuters reporter received a flustered phone call from a hedge fund partner who had heard animated discussion in the market about an incident in Nigeria, only to realise that traders had muddled up Africa’s biggest oil producer with its neighbour Niger.

“Markets took off at around the same time a Reuters story came out about gunfire erupting in the Niger capital in an apparent coup bid, mistaken by many as being Nigeria,” said Tom Bentz, analyst at BNP Paribas Commodities.

Reuters first broke news of heavy gunfire and a coup in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Thursday. Prices jumped to a one-month high of $79.29 a barrel during the day.

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