SINGAPORE (AFP) – Oil prices rose in Asia Friday on fresh hopes that the Opec cartel will overcome internal resistance to trim output, while upbeat US economic data also provided support, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery climbed 43 cents to $76.28 on the contract’s first day of trading. Brent crude for January gained 31 cents to $79.64 in afternoon trade.
Prices recovered slightly after three days of losses owing to “changing expectations” on the outcome of an Opec production meeting on November 27, Singapore’s United Overseas Bank said in a commentary.
“Investors are now speculating that Opec will be able to agree to a small cut or a stronger commitment to rein in excess oil production and keep to its 30-million barrels per day quota,” the lender said.
Despite a drop of more than 25 per cent in prices since June, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has been divided on whether to reduce output and prevent further falls.
Venezuela and Ecuador have called publicly for a cut, but key member Saudi Arabia has so far resisted.
The kingdom, Opec’s kingpin and the world’s top producer, earlier this month slashed prices on exports in order to maintain market share.
Analysts said prices were also helped by strong economic data from the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer.