Crude futures have shed more than 1% this afternoon as traders prepare for an official meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria. Signs indicate that Saudi Arabia is pushing to up output, although a majority of analysts believe that the cartel will leave production levels unchanged. Analysts have noted though that OPEC would be able to make changes to its quota later on, and the recent signs of an economic slowdown have some cartel members discussing a production boost.
Michael Fitzpatrick from MF Global (no affiliation to yours truly) told MarketWatch, Most OPEC members want to hold production steady, [but] there is some talk that Saudi Arabia is becoming more concerned about the slowing macroeconomic environment. Fitzpatrick also told clients in a note, While it is probably a very long shot, some participants now must see a possibility that OPEC could consider raising production with the stated objective of helping the world economy avoid a pronounced slowdown. At last check, the AMEX Oil Service HOLDRS Trust (OIH) was nearly 2.5% lower and the AMEX Oil & Gas Index (XOI) checked in 1.6% lower.