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Crude Lower Wednesday

Updated from Feb. 27.

Crude oil futures were lower Wednesday morning, trading at $60.88 after dropping more than $1 from Tuesday's close in electronic trading.

In an extremely volatile trading day, crude futures fell early Tuesday, rebounded around midsession, and then plunged after normal trading ended.

At 4 p.m. EST, the March contract for light, sweet crude oil was down 92 cents to under $61 a barrel after closing the floor session at $61.46. Heating oil climbed 2 cents to close at $1.78 a gallon, and gasoline ended the Nymex session up 3 cents at $1.81 a gallon.

Natural gas, which finished 2 cents lower at $7.53 per million British thermal units Tuesday, traded at a recent $7.38.

The overnight collapse in Chinese equities swept through global markets early Tuesday. The Shanghai Composite Index fell by 8.8% amid rumors that the Chinese government was preparing to put the screws to an overheating economy. Macroeconomic concerns reverberated around the world, and in the U.S. the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 400 points.

"Equity prices in China have tripled in the last 18 months. Meanwhile, China has increased its benchmark lending rate multiple times. ... [A]fter the lunar new year, this confluence of factors is weighing on investors' expectations of the future," said Dennis Gartman, publisher of The Gartman Letter, an economic report.

Energy prices were snagged early on by the global bear run. However, they later reversed direction and moved upward as investors began to anticipate that the Energy Information Administration will release bullish crude oil inventory figures on Wednesday, according to Ed Meir, an energy analyst at Man Financial.

Following normal trading, crude futures changed direction again.
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