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Oil Plummets: Thanks a Lot, China

As equities fall, oil futures plummet and settle below $70.
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) -- China stock sinks, the world freaks, crude retreats.

It's a pretty simple story, but that's the one going around the media water cooler as crude futures dropped below the $70 psychological threshold today.

In the afternoon today, the New York Mercantile Exchange's front-month contract for benchmark crude settled at $69.96 a barrel after plummeting $2.78.

This after a massive sell-off in Chinese stocks pressured global markets on heightened fears among jittery investors of a tougher near-term economic recovery. Trouble in China's economic comeback is a particular problem for crude, as the Asian superpower is the world's number two oil gobbler behind the U.S.

Even surprisingly upbeat numbers about pumped up

Midwestern manufacturing activity wasn't enough to keep equities out of the red today. And it also looks like oil shares were taking it square on the chin. In the afternoon,

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report



(COP) - Get ConocoPhillips Report



(CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report

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were each slipping 0.8%, 1.6% and 1.2%, respectively.

Shares for

Marathon Oil

(MRO) - Get Marathon Oil Corporation Report



(HES) - Get Hess Corporation Report

were also losing ground, trading down 2.7% and 2.9% each.

Overseas oil operations weren't faring much better before the closing bell either, with


(BP) - Get BP Plc Report


Royal Dutch Shell


moving down 1% and 0.6%.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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