Oil Gains on Worries Over OPEC Cut

Oil prices rose Tuesday as worries OPEC may deepen its output cut when it meets next week countered forecasts of mild weather in the top consumer the United States.

U.S. crude rose 35 cents at $62.79 a barrel at 1907 GMT, reversing direction from Monday's 99-cent loss. London's Brent crude gained 25 cents to $63.70.

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"OPEC has signaled it will cut when it meets next week but I think the market is basically shrugging its shoulders," said Andrew Harrington, a resource analyst at ANZ. "The inventory level is still very high."

Most OPEC ministers have said they still see the need for a further output cut when they meet in Abuja Dec. 14 and that, regardless of price, the market is oversupplied.

The group, which controls more than a third of world oil exports, already agreed at an emergency meeting in October to trim 1.2 million barrels per day of output from Nov. 1 to stem oil's steep slide from this summer's record over $78.

Some OPEC ministers have said the weakness of the dollar, which has shed 7 percent this year, may erode oil producers' purchasing power, providing another argument for possible supply curbs.

A weaker dollar has helped to drive buying across the commodities complex as dollar-denominated assets are relatively cheap.

But oil's gains were capped by high inventories and expectations that a brief cold spell in the United States will end soon, easing heating demand.

"The cold snap in the U.S. is almost over and the forecasts are for a return to normal," said Frederic Lassere of SG CIB Commodities.

The U.S. National Weather Service forecast higher than usual temperatures by the weekend in the U.S. Northeast, the world's biggest heating oil market, and said the mild weather could last for two weeks.

In absolute terms, crude oil stocks in the United States are at their highest level for the time of year since 1991.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected a U.S. government report Wednesday to show a 500,000-barrel decline in distillate stocks, which include heating fuel, and a moderate increase in crude inventories.

Six world powers were to meet in Paris Tuesday to discuss a prolonged impasse on U.N. sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme, with the United States pushing Russia and China to agree quickly on a sanctions plan against Tehran.

A senior U.S. government official said he did not expect a breakthrough at the meeting.

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