The Obama administration is coming under growing pressure to cool petrol prices by releasing emergency stocks of oil.

However, critics say this would be the wrong response to the wrong problem at the wrong time.

Oil prices climbed to a nine-month high of $125 a barrel on Friday, raising fears of a new oil shock that could endanger economic recovery. The immediate trigger was a report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog saying that Iran had significantly increased production of higher-grade uranium over the past six months.