Just three months after the credit crunch shuddered through global markets, companies large and small are now facing new challenges as oil prices edge ever higher towards the $100-a-barrel mark.
Continued concerns over supply - allied to an uncertain political environment - have seen oil prices spike to record levels, while the pound reached new 26-year highs against the dollar.
The price slid below $96-a-barrel yesterday after top exporter Saudi Arabia said OPEC would look at raising output to brake oil's ascent and safeguard economic growth.
Nevertheless concerns remain. The latest leg in oil's five-year climb has coincided with a US housing slump and a sub-prime mortgage defaults crisis that has hit bank profits, trig-gered a global credit crunch and proved no boom is never-ending. Food prices are also soaring.
British Airways, has said it expects to spend £2 billion on fuel for the first time this year thanks to the rocketing costs. Exporters exposed to US markets, meanwhile, are seeing revenues hit by the falling value of the greenback.
The twin pressures come at a time of deep uncertainty for the global economy, which already threatens to impact on businesses as banks take a more cautious approach to lending following the credit freeze in the summer.
Oil prices began their current run higher more than a month ago on a combination of lower US supplies and political uncertainty in oil-rich regions such as northern Iraq, amid continued demand from fast-growing economies such as India and China.
Traders have also bought oil as a hedge against the current dollar weakness, pushing the price still higher.
Goldman Sachs analysts noted that US crude has been locked in a range centred on $95 for the past two weeks. At the same time, price swings of more than $2 a day had become the norm.
"The high volatility and range-bound price action are indicative of the uncertainty that has characterised the oil market in its search for a new equilibrium," the bank said.
"We maintain that the current high price environment will likely prompt a cyclical rebalancing by the first quarter of next year as a result of a likely increase in OPEC production and some further demand softening."
Experts are now warning that a sustained period of prices at this level will threaten efforts by policymakers to keep inflation under control, while undermining UK growth.
Investec's chief economist Philip Shaw said: "Central banks, not just the Bank of England, have been concerned that energy prices could put medium-term pressure on inflation.
"As costs increase, that hurts most businesses' bottom line, which could affect growth as it might result in them deferring investment decisions."
While Government oil revenues from the UK Continental Shelf will rise in line with crude prices, the current climate of higher prices could have longer-term implications.
With prices at the petrol pump now over £1 a litre, UK consumers already under pressure after five interest rate hikes could also rein back spending as disposable income takes a further blow.
However, there are mixed indicators from the US. Americans are still buying sports utility vehicles and other fuel-guzzlers as happily as a year ago.
James Hamilton, economics professor at the University of California and a prominent oil economics researcher, has argued it will take oil prices nearer $150- a-barrel before the American public really starts to feel the pain via retail energy prices.
This will cause a significant drop in consumption that in turn hits profits and business investment.
In the UK the picture is slightly different. Mr Shaw said: "The UK consumer is more insulated from swings in crude prices due to the higher duties. But higher petrol prices in the US could cause a slowdown in spending elsewhere and hit exports."
The latest manufacturing figures from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply showed activity in the sector slowing to a 10-month low in October as the strong pound and tighter credit conditions weigh down on firms.
The oil price, allied to the continued weakness of the dollar, is another unwelcome pressure, the EEF manufacturers' organisation says.
Chief economist Steve Radley said that the higher prices would "make life more uncertain" for manufacturers.
He said: "Until recently, rising oil prices have not been a major issue as the world markets have been strong and there were a lot of opportunities to export.
"What is different now is the increases have been driven by concerns over supply, with political factors in various countries playing a part. When you have a supply shock it has a negative impact on the world economy."
But the outlook is not entirely bleak for the sector, as the sector has trimmed its fat in recent years in the face of competition from low-cost economies.
But the CBI says at time when high oil prices are not going away, businesses are just going to have to live with it by making cost savings - despite the immediate concerns over margins.
The organisation's chief economic adviser, Ian McCafferty, said: "One concern is the rapid cost inflation across a range of commodities, which is putting pressure on margins.
"Cost pressures are driven by higher prices for crude oil and rising food costs, although so far the majority of businesses have been unable to pass these onto customers."
Other sector watchers say that businesses should brace themselves for prices around the $85 a barrel level for the near future in an uncertain political and economic environment.
Howard Wheeldon, a senior strategist with BGC Partners, said: "Iraq plus a host of other concerns still linger on. International relations are probably now at a 20-year low so it should not surprise any of us that this should be reflected in the rising price of oil.
"Add in the China demand effect, the fast growth of emerging economies like India, and that the US continues to use oil at an everincreasing rate, and it isn't hard to contemplate why the price of oil may stay permanently above the $85 a barrel level."
The high prices could make it more difficult for the Bank of England to stick to its two per cent inflation target, as well as reducing the prospects of a rate cut at home to ease sterling from its heights and reduce the pressure on exporters.
Mr Wheeldon adds: "Somewhere along the line oil is used in all commodity production from mining and transport to plastic materials and food. Writing off the inflationary effects of oil at these levels would now be a great mistake."
OPEC heads of state, accompanied by their oil ministers, will gather in Riyadh for a summit this week. The next scheduled OPEC meeting to set output policy is on December 5 in Abu Dhabi.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi Saudi Arabia said on Sunday the exporter group would discuss increasing output. OPEC agreed in September to boost supplies by 500,000 barrels per day.
Analysts said they expected oil prices to be highly volatile this week, influenced by the expiry today of NYMEX December options contracts.