Speculation that OPEC and non-OPEC oil-producing nations will cooperate on limiting their output of crude oil sent energy futures prices soaring Monday to their highest level of the year.
On other markets, copper futures fell sharply while precious metals advanced; livestock and meat futures moved higher; grains and soybeans were mixed, and stock index futures advanced.
The contract for May delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude oil shot up $1.01 a 42-gallon barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange to $17.89, the highest U.S. oil futures price since Dec. 11.
Prices for future delivery of unleaded gasoline and heating oil also posted unusually sharp gains on news that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would invite representatives from at least seven independent oil-producting nations to meet with five OPEC oil ministers April 23.
"They're not really calling this an emergency session, but it nonetheless indicates they're more serious about doing something about prices and production than most traders foresaw last week," said Jim Ritterbusch, vice president of trading for Carson Petroleum Co., a Chicago-area distributor.
Unleaded gasoline settled 1.95 cents to 2.18 cents higher, with May at 50.95 cents a gallon. Heating oil was 2 cents to 2.42 cents higher, with May at 47.88 cents a gallon.
Copper prices fell sharply on New York's Commodity Exchange in mostly technical trading. The contract for April delivery lost 4.60 cents, settling at $1.012 a pound.
Precious metals advanced in reaction to the sharp rise in oil futures but gains were limited by the dollar's strong performance, said Craig Sloane, an analyst in New York with Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.
Gold settled $1 to $1.20 higher, with the active June contract at $454.70 an ounce; silver was 3.2 cents to 3.4 cents higher, with April at $6.444 an ounce.
Most livestock and meat futures advanced on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in anticipation of higher cash prices, analysts said.
Live cattle settled unchanged to 0.50 cent higher, with April at 75.27 cents a pound; feeder cattle were 0.25 cent to 0.75 cent higher, with April at 80.85 cents a pound; hogs were 0.25 cent to 0.65 cent higher, with April at 46 cents a pound, and frozen pork bellies were 0.70 cent lower to 0.55 cent higher, with May at 55.02 cents a pound.
Soybean futures gained as much as 4 cents a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on ideas that a late-season dry spell had seriously damaged the Brazilian soybean crop. Grain futures were mixed to slightly higher.
Trading activity was light ahead of the Agriculture Department's monthly reports on foreign crop production and U.S. grain supply and demand.