Oil Report

UPDATE 1-Venezuela's Chavez says hopes oil stays below $100

(Recasts, updates oil prices, adds further comments from Chavez, energy minister, background on Venezuela stance)

CARACAS, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday he hopes oil prices do not go above $100 per barrel now that crude oil has fallen close to 10 percent since it broke into triple digits early this month.

“(The price of oil) is there, close to 100 dollars, hopefully it won’t keep going up, hopefully it will stabilize,” Chavez told reporters during a press conference.

Oil prices rose on Friday amid optimism about a U.S. stimulus plan aimed at warding off a possible recession. U.S. light crude Clc1 settled up $1.30 at $90.71 per barrel.

Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez on Friday said there was too much uncertainty in the market for OPEC to raise output at its next meeting, and said OPEC would monitor the effect of economic problems in the United States on world oil prices.

Venezuela is normally a price hawk and typically resists OPEC agreements to increase output.

For years, Chavez has predicted that oil prices would top $100 per barrel, and has said that the fair price for crude is between $50 per barrel “and infinity.” His statements on Friday marked the second time this year he has suggested prices could be too high. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by David Gregorio)