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Oil prices rise ahead of key OPEC meeting

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose in Asia Monday before a crucial meeting of the OPEC cartel later in the week that will discuss whether to trim output, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery was up 31 cents to $76.82 a barrel in afternoon trade, and Brent crude for January added 37 cents to $80.73.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will hold one of its toughest and most significant meetings in recent years on Thursday, with members under pressure to address falling prices which have sunk 30 percent since June.

“All eyes will be on the OPEC meeting in Vienna and how members are going to react to the falling prices,” said Daniel Ang, investment analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore, adding the market is divided on what action the cartel will take.

“Although oil bulls take the stand that OPEC would likely be cutting production to help support prices, we take the contrary view and expect that OPEC would unlikely be doing so,” he said.

“With Libya resuming their production and OPEC’s combined production already lower than past years, we believe that cuts in OPEC output are unlikely.”

OPEC’s poorer members, led by Venezuela and Ecuador, have called publicly for a cut in output, while Iran has also hinted at a need to reduce production.

But the cartel’s Gulf members, led by kingpin Saudi Arabia, are rejecting such calls unless they are guaranteed market share in the highly competitive arena, according to analysts.

Ang said investors were also awaiting third-quarter gross domestic product data from the United States and Germany scheduled Tuesday, to gauge oil demand. (AFP)

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