Crude-oil prices hit record highs yesterday despite a decision by OPEC ministers to increase production quotas in an effort to deflate prices...

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WASHINGTON — Crude-oil prices hit record highs yesterday despite a decision by OPEC ministers to increase production quotas in an effort to deflate prices.

After a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Isfahan, Iran, the president of OPEC said oil prices were too high.

“We don’t want the price to increase,” said Sheikh Ahmad Fahad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the cartel’s president and Kuwait’s energy minister, in remarks carried live on OPEC’s Web site. “We believe this resolution will help to decrease the prices.”

But soon after those comments, oil prices jumped to new highs. On the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, U.S. benchmark crude for April delivery closed at $56.46, up $1.41 from the day before. That surpassed October’s record high of $55.17. Adjusted for inflation, prices remain below 1981 peaks.

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Analysts said the market reacted yesterday to weekly government data showing a drop in U.S. stockpiles of gasoline and heating oil.

Rising prices are a drag on the U.S. economy but have not caused serious problems, economists said.

The price of crude has been pushing up gas prices. The national average price of a gallon of regular yesterday was $2.053, according to a AAA auto-club survey — one tenth of a cent below the daily record set last May.

Analysts forecast that gas prices will move even higher as summer approaches because of seasonal demand and higher crude prices.