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Anxiety enough to push oil prices higher

Rally comes despite statements that a producer's meeting in Algeria is informal.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Anxiety enough to push oil prices higher
Crude oil prices edge higher in Monday trading even as Iran dismisses the notion of any formal action to stimulate weakened energy dynamics. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices inched higher in early trading Monday even as Iran dismissed any idea of coordinated action by major producers to stimulate the market.

Market watchers have been counting down the days at least since early September until members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and ministers from other major producers arrived in Algeria to review the prospects of extraordinary action to lift crude oil prices.

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Ministers arrived this week after crude oil prices bounced between sharp losses and heavy gains in recent sessions. Attendees at the International Energy Forum are expected to review some sort of resolution to bridge the growing gap between supply and demand.

Crude oil prices edged higher in early trading in anticipation of any remarks that could signal extraordinary action is possible among major producers. The price for Brent crude oil moved up by 1.9 percent to start trading in New York at $46.79 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was up 1.9 percent to open at $45.32 per barrel.

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Speaking to the Iranian Oil Ministry's news website Shana, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said the prospects for a definitive deal in Algeria were zero. He said the meeting this week was "a consultative gathering and should not be expected to be anything more than that."

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His comments mirror those made last week by OPEC Secretary-General Mohamed Barkindo, who said the meeting among producers would be an informal one and not a forum at which formal decisions would be made.

Oil prices this year moved briefly above the $50 mark on expectations of an emerging balance between supply and demand. Those expectations, however, have yet to materialize.

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Monday's rally may be supported in part by a low-pressure system making its way west across the Atlantic Ocean toward the Gulf of Mexico. The system is expected to develop into a cyclone within the next five days.

Some production was sidelined in late August by Tropical Storm Hermine, causing spikes in crude oil and retail fuel prices.

The price for Brent crude oil is still about 1 percent less than this time last year.

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