(March 8) Crude oil prices dropped in the first week of March, and reports that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would not cut supplies gave consumers more good news.

Diesel prices, meanwhile, rose in the first week of March but were falling by the beginning of the second week.

The morning of March 8, light sweet crude oil was trading at $61.15 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was down from closing prices of $61.58 on March 7, $62.41 on March 6 and $63.67 on March 3.

Diesel was selling for $2.54 a gallon nationwide on March 6, which was 7 cents higher than the week before and 38 cents higher than the year before, according to the Department of Energy. California was the hardest hit, with prices averaging $2.74.

But by the morning of March 8, prices had dropped below $2.70 at all of the Golden State truck stops tracked by Ogden, Utah-based Flying J Inc.

Crude prices had dipped into the $50s in mid-February before climbing back above $60 later in the month. But prices in February and March haven’t approached the Jan. 30 price of $68.35, the highest price since Aug. 30, when oil soared to $69.81.

After speculation it would cut supplies because of an anticipated drop in demand, OPEC announced March 8 it would keep supplies at their current output quota of 28 million barrels per day.

Kuwait’s oil minister, Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah, predicted prices would fall below $60 a barrel by the end of June but climb above $60 again in the fourth quarter, according to an Associated Press story.

Many OPEC members repeatedly have said oil prices are optimal in the $40-50 range, according to the AP story.

The New York Mercantile Exchange predicts oil prices will rise slowly and steadily over the next few months, with September futures trading at $65.05 the morning of March 8.