NIGERIA --- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday revealed plans to withdraw 500,000 barrels a day off the market beginning in February, according to an AP report. Market analysts have characterized the move as an apparent attempt to keep oil prices around $60 a barrel. However, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Ibrahim Naimi said that crude prices had nothing to do with the decision. Rather, he said, the action was intended to "rebalance the market." OPEC accounts for more than a third of the world's crude oil. In October, the cartel helped stabilize falling oil prices when it announced a decrease of 1.2 million barrels a day to 26.3 million barrels. However, slowing economic growth, coupled with a 2007 supply surge from producers outside of OPEC, rekindled concerns about a possible price collapse. These worries may have led to this week's announcement, and it didn't take long for energy traders to react. In New York futures trading yesterday, gasoline rose by almost 5 cents to $1.665 a gallon. Benchmark crude rose $1.14 to $62.51 a barrel. Today, crude oil prices continued to climb above $62 a barrel. Light sweet crude for January delivery rose to $62.78 a barrel in midday trading.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials