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Crude Oil Prices Slump

The May contract is down $1.38 at $61.75 a barrel.
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Energy futures were generally trading a bit to the upside Thursday, but the near-term contract for oil was dropping more than $1 a barrel, falling below $62.

Crude for May delivery was recently down $1.38 at $61.75 a barrel, while heating oil and reformulated gasoline were fractionally higher.

Meanwhile, natural gas tacked on 2 cents to $7.52 per million British thermal units following the latest inventory data. The report showed that 46 billion cubic feet of gas were drawn down last week, right in line with estimates and taking stores to 1.55 trillion cubic feet.

Among energy shares,

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report

was down 0.7% at $77.68,

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report

lost 0.7% to $77.21, and

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get ConocoPhillips Report

slipped 0.6% to $69.43.

BP

(BP) - Get BP Plc Report

was off 0.4% at $68.64, and

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Royal Dutch Shell

(RDS.A)

was flat at $69.70.

Turning to metals, gold was falling $6.90 to $686.40 an ounce, and silver was slumping 32 cents to $13.66 an ounce. Copper was weaker by 5 cents at $3.58 a pound. Platinum for July delivery advanced $2.90 to $1,309.80 an ounce.

Mining stocks were on the decline.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold

(FCX) - Get Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. Report

was shedding 1.2% to $69.32, and

Southern Copper

(PCU)

was losing 0.6% to $79.04.

Gold Fields

(GFI) - Get Gold Fields Ltd. Report

was falling 1.5% to $18.86, and

Pan American Silver

(PAAS) - Get Pan American Silver Corp. Report

was plunging 3.2% to $30.60.

Elsewhere on the commodities scene, cocoa, coffee, cotton and frozen concentrated orange juice were on the decline, but sugar was stronger. In Chicago, corn, soybeans and wheat rose, while ethanol eased.

The CRB Index was losing 2 points to 310.76.