Oil futures prices made an effort at rallying Wednesday, but were undercut by doubts about Norway's willingness to cooperate in cutting back the world's oil production.
At the end, crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were narrowly mixed. Leaded gasoline and heating oil were lower on industry data showing a buildup in stocks.
In some other markets, coffee futures were sharply higher, Treasury bonds declined steeply and livestock futures advanced.
"Oil was much stronger on the opening on good volume," said John Hill, an analyst in New York with Merrill Lynch Commodities.
But later in the session, he said, there was a report that the chairman of Norway's state oil company said he wouldn't be as enthusiastic as the prime minister had been on cutting back oil production.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is making an effort at getting nonmembers to join its own attempt at cutting back production.
On the report from Norway, Hill said, "the market turned nervous and sold off in the middle of the day."