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World oil prices firm as markets eye OPEC

World oil prices firm as markets eye OPEC NEW YORK: Oil prices rebounded Friday as the market tossed between worries over OPEC production cuts and the International Energy Agency's unexpectedly sharp reduction in global demand forecasts.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, rose 1.11 dollars to close at 36.51 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent North Sea crude for March delivery was unchanged to settle at 46.57 dollars per barrel on London's InterContinental Exchange. The February contract expired Thursday at 44.69 dollars.

"On the one hand people are focusing on an OPEC crude oil production cut, on the other hand the IEA came out and revised downward their oil demand for 2009 and put pressure on oil products," said Andy Lipow at Lipow Oil Associates.

Prices had tumbled Thursday on worries over sagging economies, rising US energy stockpiles and a new OPEC forecast of falling demand for 2009.

On Friday, the International Energy Agency followed suit, lowering its oil demand forecasts. The IEA said the market faced its first two-year contraction in demand since 1982 and 1983.

The energy watchdog added that it wanted to anticipate sharp downward revisions to global economic growth forecasts and so had halved its own growth estimate to just 1.2 percent "given the worsening outlook."

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