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The price of crude oil dropped Thursday even as Hurricane Ike gathers strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Counteracting storm's disruptive effects on oil supply, however, is concerns of weakening global energy demand.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery slid $1.71 to settle at $100.87 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the lowest close in about five months. The decline came as the dollar rose against both the euro and pound Thursday.

As Hurricane Ike heads toward Texas and the state's crude oil and refining operations,

Exxon Mobil

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shut down its suburban Houston plant in Baytown, the nation's largest refinery, according to a


report that quoted an Exxon spokesperson. The stock slipped 0.5% to $75.64.

Trading in the opposite direction, Brazil-based


(PBR) - Get Petróleo Brasileiro SA Report

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shares climbed more than 6% after the company reported that one of its fields contains between 3 billion and 4 billion barrels of oil.

On Wednesday, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries voted to trim overall output in an effort to boost falling prices. However,

The New York Times

reported Thursday that Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest member, is not aligned with the cartel's decision and is quietly hinting it will increase output. In

Saudis Vow to Ignore OPEC Decision to Cut Production

, the Times quoted a senior OPEC delegate as saying, "Saudi Arabia will meet the market's demand. .. We will see what the market requires and we will not leave a customer without oil. The policy has not changed."

Also on Wednesday, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration released a weekly report that revealed that crude and gasoline inventories fell from the previous week.


United States Oil Fund

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, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the commodity, sank 1.6% to $81.61.

This article was written by a staff member of