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Record Nymex Close for Crude

OPEC will lift its oil production by half a million barrels a day.

Updated from 1:12 p.m. EDT

OPEC agreed to lift its crude production by half a million barrels a day in a move aimed at keeping high oil prices from crimping the global economy, but that didn't stop an advance in the futures market.

Crude bounced around ahead of OPEC's decision and again after it, eventually settling at a record close of $78.23 a barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 74 cents.

The oil-exporting group has 10 members who are bound by quotas, and they reached the decision to increase output at a meeting in Vienna on Tuesday.

OPEC was already believed to be pumping about 900,000 to 1 million barrels more than its stated target of 25.8 million a day, and Kuwait's oil minister essentially confirmed in a televised interview that indeed that had been the case. The new quota, he said, will be 27.2 million barrels a day.

The 500,000-barrel daily addition, then, is effectively equal to an increase of nearly one and a half million barrels to world supplies, around 1 million of which will come from a new level for member quotas. The change will become effective Nov. 1.

OPEC's spoken quotas have often been more of a rough guide than anything, and member states have been known to ignore the targets in the past.

Meanwhile, reformulated gasoline rose fractionally to $1.98 a gallon, and heating oil was up 1 cent at $2.18 a gallon. Natural gas was higher by 3 cents at $5.92 per million British thermal units.

Though a number of OPEC member countries were against a production increase for fear of a likely decline in prices, Saudi Arabia's argument that low prices would help the global economy and thus increase demand won the day. Saudi Arabia is the biggest and most powerful OPEC member.

Energy stocks were mixed in the session.


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