MARKET WATCH: Oil prices jump ahead of OPEC’s call to hold production quota steady

Oil prices jumped Dec. 3 on the heels of news that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, who met Dec. 4 in Vienna at the cartel’s 164th ordinary meeting, decided collectively to maintain the group’s current production quota level of 30 million b/d.

The OPEC conference said they considered the world’s economic outlook, which included “the high sovereign debt in the Euro-zone, high unemployment in the advanced economies, especially the Euro-zone, and slow growth, coupled with inflation risk, in the emerging economies.”

OPEC said, “Indeed, the biggest challenge facing global oil markets in 2014 is this global economic uncertainty, with the fragility of the Euro-zone remaining a cause for concern.”

The conference decided to hold its next ordinary meeting in Vienna on June 11, 2014.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange January crude contract gained $2.22 on Dec. 3 to settle at $96.04/bbl. The February contract added $2.17 to close at $96.27/bbl.

Heating oil for January delivery increased 1.5¢, settling at a rounded $3.07/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for January delivery was up 4.5¢ to a rounded $2.72/gal.

The January natural gas contract on NYMEX edged down 1.2¢, settling at a rounded $3.98/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., closed at $3.83/MMbtu, virtually unchanged from Dec. 2.

In London, the January ICE contract for Brent crude oil rose $1.17, settling at $112.62/bbl. The February contract for Brent also increased, up $1.08 to $112.13/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for December gained $3 to settle at $945.75/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed at $108.08/bbl on Dec. 3, jumping $1.34.

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