Oil futures prices stabilized Wednesday, moving back above the $16-a-barrel level and giving a breather to some of the other futures markets. Crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange advanced 72 cents a barrel after sinking $4.22 in the three previous trading sessions.
Grain and precious-metals futures also settled higher, partly because of the increase in oil prices, analysts said.
Heating oil futures advanced strongly, with the contract for delivery in March rising by 3.59 cents to settle at 49.56 cents a gallon.
There were conflicting reasons given for the turnabout.
"There were rumors that not only Norway and Britain, but perhaps the president of OPEC, would meet over the weekend" to work at finding a way to stop the flood of oil, said Nauman Barakat, an analyst in New York with Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.