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Marathon Oil and Apache Lead Oil Majors Lower as Prices Plunge

Marathon Oil and other major oil companies tumble in the face of an oil price war and as demand dries up.

Marathon Oil  (MRO) - Get Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO) Report lost more half of its market value and other oil companies wilted as crude prices fell when negotiations between OPEC and Russia broke down and Saudi Arabia launched a price war and vowed to boost production to lift its market share.

Shares of the Houston-based company were down 51.3% to $3.32 at last check.

The price war inflicted more punishment on markets that have been battered by weakening demand from the continued spread of the coronavirus.

Apache Corp. (APA) - Get Apache Corporation Report was down 48.3% to $10.70.

Analysts responded to the price collapse by cutting their ratings on the oil companies

SunTrust analyst Neal Dingmann downgraded Marathon Oil to hold from buy and slashed his price target to $7 from $18.

Doug Leggate, an analyst with Bank of America, downgraded Marathon Oil to underperform from neutral, telling investors that the potential downside is more than twice the potential upside in his "stress" case compared with his base case.

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Leggate also downgraded Occidental Petroleum (OXY) - Get Occidental Petroleum Corporation Report to Neutral from Buy with a price target of $30, down from $75. Shares were down 41.9% to $15.15.

Heikkinen Energy Advisors cut the recommendation on Occidental Petroleum Corp. to bottom tier

West Texas Intermediate crude was down 24.3% to $31.27 a barrel and Brent crude prices were off 24% to $34.43 a barrel.

The  Energy Select SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund Report was tumbling 19% to $34.46 before the market open.

Other oil companies that were suffering included Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report, down 10.4% to $42.69, Chevron (CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report, down 14.3% to $81.66,  and ConocoPhillips (COP) - Get ConocoPhillips Report was down 25.3% to $33.85.

In addition, Williams Cos.  (WMB) - Get Williams Companies, Inc. Report fell 13.9% to $15.01, Kinder Morgan  (KMI) - Get Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI) Report was down 16.4% to $16.16, and Baker Hughes   (BKR) - Get BAKER HUGHES COMPANY CLASS A Report was down 22.3% to $12.50.

The sharp drop in oil prices started after OPEC talks collapsed as cartel leaders and non-member allies such as Russia failed to deepen a pact on production cuts but also allowed their current agreement, which takes 1.2 million barrels from the market each day, to expire.