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AnalysisCrude started the morning with steady trading, presently trading above $73 per barrel, as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting starts today in Angola's capital Luanda. However, expectations are racking up that the organization will maintain its production targets intact from previous levels.

Oil futures for February settlement opened yesterday at $74.35 per barrel, recording the highest at $75.20 per barrel and lowest at $73.15 per barrel; closing at $73.90 per barrel.

Crude futures were trading above $73 per barrel, after rising expectations that OPEC, which supplies nearly 40% of the world’s oil supply, will not be amending their previous production quota; leaving their production target intact at 4.2 million barrels per day since September 2008.

Saudi Oil Minister, Ali Naimi, expects a drop in distillate fuel stocks in the U.S., which is considered to be the primary energy consumer in the world, due to the deteriorating weather conditions in the region, since it supports the demand and consumption levels on crude and therefore will provide an upside support for prices.

Crude increased by 65% this year, specifically since OPEC stabilized their production targets at aforesaid levels. The 12-memmber cartel maintained its production targets stable for three consecutive meetings since the last reduction in September 2008. Meanwhile, the organization sees that the fair price for oil is between $70 – 80 per barrel accommodating both producers and consumers, in addition to helping economies exit the recession.

On the other hand, Heating Oil Futures for January settlement remained in NYMEX trading around $1.95 levels; whereas motor gasoline contracts rose to record $1.87 a gain of 0.5 cents. Meanwhile, natural gas contracts inclined to record $5.74 per 100 cubic feet.

Crude contracts for February delivery opened today at $73.42 per barrel recording its highest at $73.9275.20 per barrel and lowest at $73.40 per barrel, whereas current contracts are trading around $73.90 per barrel.