Updated from 4:37 a.m. EDT



) -- Crude oil was trading higher as OPEC, for the third time this year, has decided to leave its production quotas steady.

Qatar's oil minister Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah told reporters in Vienna that leaders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed that production quotas would remain unchanged and an official announcement would be made later Thursday. Key members of the group, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, said they were content with the current price of oil.

OPEC's output target, set in December, is about 25 million barrels of oil a day.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency said Thursday the slump in global oil demand this year will be less severe than previously forecast and consumption will increase next year as the world economy stabilizes.

The Paris-based IEA, which advises oil-consuming countries, said crude demand would reach 84.4 million barrels a day this year, down 2.2% from 2008 levels -- better than the 2.7% decline the agency forecast previously.

Crude oil was trading at $71.57, up 26 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after topping more than $72 earlier Thursday. On Wednesday, the contract rose 21 cents to settle at $71.31.

The price of a barrel of oil has risen in recent days as the dollar has weakened. Crude prices have risen roughly 60% so far in 2009.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York


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