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Another 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day will be OK'd for supply to world markets when the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets Sunday in Vienna, a senior cartel official was quoted as saying. A Saudi-owned newspaper on Cyprus, al-Haryat, quoted the unidentified official as saying the new hike would be enough to "rein in" futures prices, which were at a 10-year high of $32.85 a barrel in London as trading wound down Monday. Such an increase would, in effect, amount to 1 million barrels a day because Saudi Arabia already is pumping 300,000 barrels over its assigned quota, al-Haryat said. Traders have been saying they expect a half-million-barrel increase when OPEC's oil ministers meet and were tending to dismiss the unnamed source's higher prediction. In any event, analysts said it would make little sense for refiners to buy and store crude at current prices because they'd ultimately have to sell its end products at a loss.

The second-largest electricity and natural gas utility in New York State, Niagara Mohawk Holdings Inc., agreed to be acquired by the British monopoly National Grid Group PLC, the companies announced. The cash-and-stock deal was valued at $3 billion. It was National Grid's third such purchase in the US Northeast in six months. In March it bought New England Electric Systems of Westborough, Mass., for $3.2 billion, followed by the $643 million acquisition of Boston-based Eastern Utilities Associates in April. Niagara Mohawk is based in West Syracuse and has more than 2 million customers.

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