Market watch: Futures prices rise on OPEC quota cut anticipation

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 20 -- Futures prices for oil and refined products continued to climb Wednesday on the possibility that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may proceed with its proposed 1.5 million b/d reduction of production quotas in January.

Traders are still skeptical that OPEC members will fully comply with lower quotas or that non-OPEC producers will stick with their pledges to reduce world oil supplies. However, they concede that producers in general have demonstrated their willingness to tackle the problem of overproduction.

The February contract for benchmark US sweet, light crudes gained 20¢ to $19.80/bbl Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the March position increased 26¢ to $20.05/bbl. However, both declined in after-hours electronic trading to $19.71/bbl and $20/bbl, respectively.

Home heating oil for January delivery was up 1.44¢ to 56.13¢/gal on the NYMEX. Unleaded gasoline for the same month rose 0.77¢ to 55.81¢/gal. However, the January natural gas contract lost 4.1¢ to $2.62/Mcf.

In London, the February contract for North Sea Brent oil closed at $19.47/bbl Wednesday, up 29¢ for the day after trading as high as $19.76/bbl from the opening low of $19.25/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The January natural gas contract moved up 2.95¢ to the equivalent of $4.14/Mcf on the IPE.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes gained 23¢ to $17.80/bbl Wednesday.

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