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Oil prices little changed after Saudi remarks
[NEW YORK] Oil prices were little changed on Monday as traders tried to decipher remarks by Saudi Arabia suggesting a production cutback in response to abundant global supplies.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in January shed 15 cents at US$41.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent North Sea crude for January delivery, the global benchmark for oil, rose 17 cents to US$44.83 a barrel in London.
With oil prices under pressure since mid-2014 amid concerns about oversupply, the market was focused on recent remarks by Saudi Arabia, the top producer in the Opec cartel, that it was ready to work with other producers to stabilize oil prices.
Opec's decision in November 2014 to maintain output despite falling prices accelerated the collapse in prices and is believed to represent the cartel's bid to safeguard market share.
Still, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi called for efforts to stabilize the energy market last week, saying that Saudi Arabia was prepared to work with Opec and non-Opec producers to support prices.
"The market is quite skeptical that any resolve will occur between Opec and non-Opec producers," said Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates.
"But on the other hand, they know that Opec producers are under financial stress given these low oil prices and they're spending their cash at very rapid rates, including the Saudis."
The 12-nation Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries holds a meeting in Vienna on December 4 as it faces calls for a cut in production.
"Ahead of the December 4th Opec meeting, it's a positive sign that the Saudis are talking this up right now," said Carl Larry of Frost & Sullivan.
"I don't know if they're really willing to cooperate."