Commodities : Oil Futures Rise Again

Energy futures prices rose again on Wednesday in the growing belief that OPEC members are willing to make the production sacrifices necessary to keep prices in the $18 a barrel range.

On other markets, coffee futures plunged again; grain mostly was higher while soybeans declined; nearby cattle contracts were lower while most other livestock and meat futures advanced; and precious metals futures rose.

Crude oil futures at the New York Mercantile Exchange surged to $17.75 a barrel during the day before giving up some of the gains.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled 10 cents to 17 cents higher with the contract for delivery in April at $17.51 a barrel; heating oil was .16 cent to .98 cent higher with April at 46.44 cents a gallon; and unleaded gasoline was .05 cent to 1.13 cents higher with April at 50.69 cents a gallon.

"It seems that people are believing more and more in OPEC, believing that it can hold onto the $18 price range," said Ed Dellamonte, an analyst in New York with Prudential-Bache Securities.

He cited a report that Saudi Arabia sold France a quantity of crude oil at the official price and that Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members have been resisting the temptation to get business by discounting prices.

"They're not giving in to pressure from the Japanese or from major American companies to reduce prices," Dellamonte said.

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