Oil markets continue to show contrary ways. Crude inventories remain excessive, and some products stocks have plunged. Merrill Lynch sees oil stocks remaining high headed into the new year, especially with the likelihood of a call on OPEC oil of 23 million b/d vs. current output of 24 million b/d in the fourth quarter. The analyst predicts the call on OPEC oil at only 23.4 million b/d in the first quarter, compared with OPEC's own projection of 24.4 million b/d.

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