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Crude Takes a Tumble

Oil futures fall $3.45 to $91.17 a barrel.

The prospect of $100-a-barrel oil has suddenly started looking suspect, and now the run-up has taken another step backward, this time courtesy of the International Energy Agency.

The IEA issued a bearish report Tuesday that lowered its forecasts for oil demand next year, and that sent crude futures reeling.

December light sweet crude oil fell $3.45 to $91.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The rest of the futures curve followed suit, with January crude dropping below $90 a barrel.

Less than a week ago, oil hit an all-time high intraday above $98 and a triple-digit price seemed a matter of when, not if. But the past few sessions have seen selling pressure, the latest spurred by the IEA.

In a monthly report, the group said next year's oil use should average 87.69 million barrels a day, down 300,000 from its last estimate, because of high prices. The IEA cut its forecast for fourth-quarter consumption by half a million barrels a day.

Meanwhile, reformulated gasoline slid 11 cents to $2.31 a gallon, and heating oil moved 9 cents lower to $2.49 a gallon. Near-term natural gas edged 2 cents higher to $7.98 per million British thermal units.

Investors who were betting on oil to reach $100 a barrel were expecting bullish fundamental news to nudge futures upward before the options on December crude expired. The news never came, and all support for the crude curve evaporated.

Energy stocks shrugged off the commotion and were for the most part stronger.

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