Friday, September 4, 2009

Oil Trades Near $68 on Speculation OPEC Will Keep Quotas Steady

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded little changed near $68 a barrel on speculation that OPEC will keep quotas steady as it is satisfied with current price levels.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will probably keep its target at 24.845 million barrels a day when ministers gather on Sept. 9, according to all 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Japanese and Australian stock futures climbed today as U.S. retailers reported greater-than- forecast sales.

“OPEC doesn’t mind where the price is,” said Jonathan Barratt, managing director at Commodity Broking Services Pty in Sydney. “They don’t want oil below $60. Likewise they don’t want it too much higher because that’ll curb demand.”

Crude oil for October delivery traded at $68.19 a barrel, up 23 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:23 a.m. Sydney time. Yesterday, the contract fell 9 cents to $67.96. Prices are poised to fall 2.6 percent this week.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.9 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.7 percent yesterday. There will be no floor trading in New York on Sept. 7 because of the Labor Day holiday. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 4.8 percent, the most since March 4.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September finished at 10,240 in Chicago, up from 10,200 in Osaka and 10,215 in Singapore. Those for Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.6 percent in Sydney.

August Payrolls

“We’re looking toward the labor numbers tonight in the States and that will be the key as to the near-term direction of crude,” Barratt said.

A Labor Department report today may show payrolls fell by 225,000 in August and the unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey. The economy has lost 6.7 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, the biggest employment slump in any post-World War II economic downturn.

Brent crude oil for October settlement fell 33 cents to $67.33 a barrel at 10:17 a.m. Sydney time on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Yesterday it dropped 54 cents, or 0.8 percent, to end the session at $67.12 a barrel.