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Oil prices mixed ahead of key OPEC meeting

Oil prices were mixed in Asia today ahead of a crucial meeting of the OPEC cartel later in the week that will discuss whether to trim output, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery was down six cents at $ 76.45 a barrel late-morning trade, and Brent crude for January added two cents to $ 80.38.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will hold one of its toughest and most significant meetings in recent years on Thursday, with members under pressure to address falling prices, which have sunk 30% since June.

“All eyes will be on the OPEC meeting in Vienna and how members are going to react to the falling prices,” said Daniel Ang, investment analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore, adding the market is divided on what action cartel will take.

OPEC’s poorer members, led by Venezuela and Ecuador, have called publicly for a cut in output, while Iran has also hinted at a need to reduce production.

But the cartel’s Gulf members, led by kingpin Saudi Arabia, are rejecting such calls unless they are guaranteed market share in the highly competitive arena, according to analysts.

Ang said investors were also waiting for third-quarter gross domestic product data from the United States and European powerhouse Germany scheduled Tuesday to gauge oil demand.

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