1. PRESSURE VALVE

    Oil Prices Spike to Nine-Month High

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad on February 16, 2012. Pakistan on February 16 welcomed the leaders of Afghanistan and Iran for a regional summit at a key juncture in peace efforts with the Taliban and amid rising tensions between Tehran and Israel. AFP PHOTO/Aamir QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

    Aamir Qureshi / AFP-Getty Images

    Diplomatic brinksmanship is putting a strain on oil prices, which topped $105 a barrel Monday as Iran continues to fight Western countries over its nuclear ambitions. The Middle Eastern country stopped shipments of crude oil to Britain and France on Sunday in what is likely a response to plans by the European Union to impose further economic and trade sanctions. Iran’s oil minister warned of a possible cutoff earlier this month. The action is likely to have little impact on the two affected nations, however—France imports a mere 3 percent of its oil from Iran, and Britain stopped buying oil from the country six months ago.

    Read it at The Associated Press