Update: OPEC agrees to keep output targets unchanged.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries signaled it will not adjust its oil output targets, sending prices of crude futures above $82 per barrel on Wednesday, just a day after crude futures fell below $80 per barrel.
"Good demand, reliable supply, beautiful prices -- we are very happy," Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi reportedly said before entering the OPEC Conference in Vienna. As the largest oil producer in OPEC, Saudi Arabia holds an out-sized influence on the group's decisions about output quotas.
Still, opening remarks from Germánico Pinto, president of the OPEC Conference and Ecuador's minister of Nonrenewable Natural Resources, hinted that stability in the market is still quite "fragile." Pinto noted that fears of a double-dip recession remain a threat, and that the global economic outlook will have a direct impact on the oil market.
While there are many theories on the relationship between oil prices and the global economy -- DailyFinance's Michael Panzner theorized on Tuesday that rapid, short-term price hikes may signal a coming economic downturn -- pricing stability is vital for the world economy, affecting thousands of industries ranging from tourism to exports. Ahead of the financial crisis in 2008, oil prices nearly tripled to well above $140 per barrel. In a matter of months, prices plummeted to a little more than $40 per barrel.
Less than a week ago, oil prices climbed above $82, possibly on optimism about China's economic recovery, which would increase the overall demand for fuel; it was anticipated that OPEC would increase shipments to satisfy China's rising needs.
OPEC Signals It Will Hold Steady on Oil Output Targets