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Oil Prices Drop Further in Week as Euro's Travails Continue

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Oil Market Summary from: 05/10/2010 to 05/14/2010

Crude oil prices plunged nearly 4% on Friday and were off almost 20% from their 18-month high less than two weeks ago, as the euro continued to lose ground against the dollar and U.S. oil inventories continued to build.

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The benchmark West Texas Intermediate contract settled at $71.61 a barrel on Friday, down $2.79 on the day, compared with $75.11 a week earlier, and the lowest price in three months. Oil prices hit an 18-month high of $87.15 on May 3.

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The euro on Friday reached its lowest point against the dollar since October 2008, falling below $1.24 from just above $1.25 on the previous day. As the dollar strengthens, it puts downward pressure on oil prices.

Oil futures fell below $71 a barrel in intraday trading, and analysts now feel that prices may test the $70 threshold. OPEC has repeatedly said it would like oil prices to stay in a range of $70 to $80 a barrel, and the oil cartel might be prompted to cut production if prices fell below $70.

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The buildup of inventories continued to weigh on the Nymex contract. The European benchmark, ICE's Brent crude, which normally trades at a discount to WTI, settled at $77.18 on Friday.

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