Oil Stays Above $91 As OPEC Signals No Output Hike

December 27, 2010 - 7:17 AM

Singapore (AP) - Oil prices hovered above $91 a barrel Monday in Asia as some OPEC ministers signaled the group doesn't plan to boost output to cool the recent jump in crude.

Benchmark oil for February delivery fell 17 cents to $91.34 a barrel midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

On Thursday, the contract rose $1.03 to settle at $91.51, the highest level since October 2008. Global oil markets were closed Friday for the Christmas holiday.

Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said at a meeting in Cairo over the weekend that the full group would likely not meet until June to discuss production quota policy. OPEC, which accounts for about 40 percent of global crude output, left quotas unchanged at a meeting earlier this month.

Some analysts are concerned that higher oil prices, which have jumped almost 30 percent since September, could fuel inflation and undermine global economic growth. China raised its benchmark lending rate Saturday for a second time in two months in a bid to ease growing inflation pressures.

"High oil prices were one of the contributors to the last global crisis," JBC Energy said in a report. "The largest effect of an oil price shock on the economy occurs around three to four quarters after the price spike."

In other Nymex trading in January contracts, heating oil was steady at $2.54 a gallon, gasoline futures fell 0.77 cent to $2.43 a gallon and natural gas dropped 5.3 cents to $4.03 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose 32 cents to $94.09 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.