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By Samuel R. Avro on Jan 23, 2009 with no responses

Crude Oil Futures Close Above $46 on OPEC Supply Cuts

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Crude oil futures posted gains on Friday amid continuing signs that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) were complying with their production quotas, which is increasing speculation that crude supplies will begin to decrease.

U.S. light, sweet crude rose $2.52, or 5.7 percent,to settle at $46.20 a barrel at the close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

While still 47 percent less than a year ago, oil futures are up 3.6 since the start of the new year.

Data from the U.S. Energy Department released Thursday showed that crude and fuel inventories continued to rise sharply as the economic recession erodes demand.

Starting this month OPEC members have a combined quota of 24.845 million barrels a day. A reduction to that point will require the member nations to make their deepest supply cut in their history.

Iraq is the only member of the oil cartel exempt from the production quotas.

Earlier on Friday, crude had traded as low as $41.40 a barrel.

According to data released on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportion, consumers drove 112 billion fewer miles during the 13-month period between November 1, 2007 and November 30, 2008.