Light sweet crude for January delivery rose $1.11 to $62.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for January, which expires at the close of trading on Thursday, was up 90 cents at $62.23 a barrel.
The bump in oil, pushed up several large energy companies’ stock prices. Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. gained 93 cents to $78.29 on the New York Stock Exchange, where shares of Royal Dutch Shell rose 41 cents to $71.29.
Meanwhile, shares of fuel-dependent airlines fell, though the drop may partly reflect profit taking after a steady run up that followed excitement about industry consolidation. Shares of American Airlines parent AMR fell $1.28 to $31.37 on the NYSE, while those of JetBlue Airways slid 36 cents to $13.79.
The decision by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was confirmed by Edmund Daukoru, the Nigerian president and oil minister, along with ministers from other member nations who met in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
With world inventories high but moving downward and the coldest days of the northern hemisphere winter still ahead, the move was intended to come across as a compromise – meant to keep markets and consumers calm at least in the short term.
It also left a possible window for the organisation to decide against a cut in February should demand spike, moving prices sharply upward.
The disagreement within Opec over whether further reductions in output were needed reflected uncertainty over demand, worries that inventories are too high and chafing over the shrinking US dollar that makes each barrel of crude worth less to Opec members because the currency decline reduces their purchasing power in Europe.
On Wednesday, the US energy department released data showing a 4.3 million barrel drop in US crude oil inventories last week, while the International Energy Agency said in its monthly report that stockpiles of crude in industrialised nations fell by 40 million barrels in October – evidence that global inventories are tightening.