OPEC keeping oil output on hold despite low prices
Reflecting its lessening oil clout, OPEC decided today to keep its output target on hold and sit out falling crude prices that will likely spiral even lower as a result.
Oil prices fell sharply on the news.
Even though the decision was largely expected, it showed the once-powerful cartel is losing the power to push up markets to its own advantage.
The move to maintain a production target of 30 million barrels a day appeared to reflect acceptance of the Saudi view within OPEC that short-term pain had to be accepted for later gain.
The Saudis and their Gulf allies hope to put economic pressure on rival producers in the US, which need higher prices to break even.
In the long term, that could help reaffirm OPEC's dominance of the oil market.
It would also be good news for consumers and oil-importing nations.
The global price plunged $5 to a four-year low of $72.76 a barrel.
As recently as June it was around $115.
Oil ministers had come to today's meeting facing two unpalatable choices: Cut their production from 30 million barrels a day in an effort to boost prices and see OPEC's market share fall, or do nothing in hopes of riding out the crisis.
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