Crude oil prices crept higher in New York Friday as traders began to discuss the notion that OPEC could be on the verge of cutting its output. The oil-exporting group will meet next week, advancing what had been a planned November gathering, in order to discuss the tumble that has taken near-term crude contracts down 50% in just three months. Many market observers are expecting at least some curtailment in OPEC's production targets.
On Thursday, November-dated futures dropped $4.69 to $69.85, the first close below $70 in more than a year. Recently, light, sweet crude was up $1.35 to $71.20 a barrel. Brent was adding $1.05 to $68.89. Heating oil was up 4 cents at $2.13 a gallon, and reformulated gasoline was gaining 4 cents to $1.66 a gallon. Natural gas was stronger by 16 cents at $6.86 per million British thermal units. Among stocks, Schlumberger ( SLB) said third-quarter earnings climbed 7% to $1.5 billion, or $1.25 a share, as sales surged to $7.3 billion from $5.9 billion a year earlier. Shares were lower by 6%, however. Major integrateds BP ( BP), ConocoPhillips ( COP) and Chevron ( CVX) were rising, but Exxon Mobil ( XOM) slipped. The U.S. Oil ( USO) ETF, which tracks crude prices, was little changed.