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Oil Prices Rebound as Emergency OPEC Meeting Nears


Renewed calls by some members of the world's biggest oil cartel have sent oil prices higher.

The price of crude oil for future delivery has been falling for days as investors increasing worry a global economic slowdown will drive demand downward. But oil prices shot higher, after Iran insisted OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, cut oil production by two million barrels a day.

Crude oil for future delivery gained almost $2 (2.6 percent) to almost $69 a barrel during electronic trading Thursday in New York.

Prices had fallen to almost $66 a barrel on Wednesday, oil's lowest level in 16 months.

OPEC is holding an emergency meeting in Vienna Friday and is expected to cut oil production, perhaps as much as three million barrels a day. The move is aimed at halting the steep drop in oil prices, which have fallen more than 50 percent since reaching a record high of $147 a barrel in July.

OPEC President Chakib Khelil has said the ideal price for a barrel of oil would be between $70 and $90 a barrel. But Khelil and Kuwait's oil minister say OPEC should not take any action without considering the impact it could have on the global economic crisis.

The cartel produces about 40 percent of the world's oil, and economists say if oil prices continue to slide, some members will not be able to meet their financial obligations.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the head of the International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka, have warned against any actions that could make oil more expensive.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.