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Crude Oil Prices Hit $41

The benchmark U.S. crude hits another record high on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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Updated from 1:29 p.m. EDT

Crude oil futures closed above $41 a barrel Thursday, as supply worries continued to stoke market speculation in what has been a furious rally in recent weeks.

The benchmark U.S. crude settled at $41.08, up 31 cents, or 0.8%, from the Wednesday close of $40.77, which surpassed the record close of $40.42 a barrel set on Oct. 11, 1990, after Iraq had invaded and occupied Kuwait.

In the past two weeks, prices have repeatedly touched new highs on gasoline supply worries -- ahead of the peak summer driving season -- which have been complicated by security concerns in the Middle East.

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The resumption of the spring rally this week follows a modest selloff Monday after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said that when OPEC meets on June 3, it should raise its production target by at least 1.5 million barrels per day, or about 6%, from its current production rate of 23.5 million.

There's growing concern that the run-up in prices will slow global economic growth. High gasoline prices -- which are above $2 a gallon in California and other states -- have become something of a presidential election issue and could hurt consumer spending in the U.S.