Oil prices rise to above US$44 before OPEC meet in Algeria

A barrel of oil prices rose above US$44 a barrel in Asia as the market awaits the size of the production cut to be announced by OPEC at a meeting in Algeria. Light, sweet crude for January delivery rose to US$44.42 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore. OPEC, which accounts for about 40% of crude global supply, is likely to cut production by about 2 mln bpd. If investors brush off another OPEC cut and continue to focus on weakening global crude demand, non-OPEC producers may join the cartel in lowering output. The US Energy Department's Energy Information Administration report is projected to show that oil stocks fell 900,000 barrels last week, gasoline inventories rose 1.5 mln barrels and distillates dropped 1.8 mln barrels last week.
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