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New OPEC Cut Likely

The oil exporters will probably reduce production by half a million barrels a day early next year.
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The world's biggest oil-exporting group plans to further reduce production in a bid to strengthen prices, but the cut probably won't happen until February.

According to several published reports, oil ministers from the 11-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, will probably lower output by about 500,000 barrels a day. For now, production levels will remain unchanged.

Oil futures were rising in New York after the news. Lately, the January crude contract was gaining 87 cents to $62.24 a barrel. Other energy contracts were higher as well.

Just a few weeks ago, OPEC said it was removing 1.2 million barrels a day from the world's supply, but most analysts aren't convinced that much has come out. Estimates have been that something more along the lines of 800,000 barrels a day are being held back.

Shares of most big oil companies were rising early Thursday.



was up 25 cents to $51.45, and

Royal Dutch Shell


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was adding 37 cents to $71.25.

Exxon Mobil


was advancing 21 cents to $77.57, and



was up 50 cents to $71.50.



, the U.K.-based petroleum concern, was weaker, falling $1.03 to $67.56.