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Oil Slides Despite Unrest

Crude prices fell sharply in Thursday's trading session at the New York Mercantile Exchange despite a string of geopolitical news that would normally make oil more expensive.

The July West Texas intermediate contract lost $1.57 to $64.20 a barrel. Reformulated gasoline edged 5 cents higher to $2.36 a gallon, but heating oil remained unchanged at $1.93 a gallon.

June natural gas fell 7 cents to $7.69 per million British thermal units.

Early morning rumors of refinery outages in the U.S. sent crude prices down from the onset, according to Gene McGillian, an analyst at TSF Energy Futures. Refinery outages would lead to lower consumption of crude oil and decreased production of gasoline.

Once the price of crude oil fell below $65, traders with long positions appeared to panic, sending prices lower still, McGillian said. Crude oil will likely trade sideways between $64 and $66 for the near term, he speculated.

"As we start to head into a long weekend on both sides of the Atlantic, we expect to see volumes tail off, but markets should finish a touch higher, given the various geopolitical hotspots," according to Edward Meir, an analyst at Man Financial, in an email.

One development saw striking workers from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. interfere with crude deliveries to four oil refineries, according to analysts at Strategic Forecasting in Austin, Texas.

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