Oil hovered around $68 a barrel in thin trade on Monday ahead of an OPEC meeting this week which is widely expected to keep its official output unchanged.

U.S. crude ticked up 3 cents to $68.05 a barrel by 1713 GMT (1:13 p.m. EDT). London Brent crude rose 11 cents to $66.93.

Oil rose earlier on higher Asian and European equity markets and on a decision by Group of 20 finance leaders at the weekend to continue with economic stimulus plans until the global recovery was well entrenched.

Trading was relatively thin as many U.S. investors were away for the Labor Day holiday, which marks the end of the summer holiday season when gasoline demand rises.

Markets are always looking for direction, currently especially from equity markets. We don't have fundamental driving forces (today) in the oil market, therefore moves are very, very minor in amplitude, said Andy Sommer, an analyst with EGL in Switzerland.

I wouldn't expect much to happen during the day because American players are not in today.

Oil prices, which fell 6.5 percent last week, have been trading in a range between $65 and $75 a barrel since the start of August, with prices swinging on economic data as investors seek clues about the speed of a recovery from the downturn.


Kuwait's oil minister said members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries were in a general consensus to keep output levels steady when the cartel's ministers meet in Vienna this week.

He said Kuwait and other Gulf Arab oil producing countries would be pushing for better compliance with output targets.

Increased crude supplies due to slipping compliance could put further pressure on oil prices in the near term, analysts said.

Compliance discipline has slipped from a peak of 80 percent to less than 70 percent as oil prices rebounded from a low of $32.40 in December to this year's peak of $75 hit in August.

Delegates already in Vienna ahead of the meeting, which begins late on Wednesday, told Reuters they were satisfied with the oil price, even though inventory levels were much higher than OPEC considers appropriate.

The market is also watching a weather disturbance that is moving westward from Africa. There is a medium chance of it becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Sunday.

(Additional reporting by Fayen Wong in Perth; editing by Sue Thomas)