Opec keeps production steady in face of $100 oil

VIENNA -Opec ministers yesterday agreed to keep oil output steady and said record high prices had been driven by factors that were beyond their control.

US crude hit a record of $103.95 a barrel on Monday and was trading above $100 yesterday.

Washington has said even a token supply increase from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would help to tame prices and limit any impact on a fragile world economy.

But Opec ministers have repeatedly said the oil market has been driven by a weak dollar, speculation and political strife, and not by a lack of crude.

After less than two hours of talks, Opec delegates told Reuters the group had reached agreement to keep supplies steady.

The ministerial meeting continued discussing other matters after the decision had been reached.

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