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Updated from 11:49 a.m. EDT

Crude oil prices Monday fell from their latest record high, but traders continued to closely monitor events in a few key oil-producing countries.

The benchmark U.S. crude closed down 58 cents, or 1.2%, at $46.30 a barrel in floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after the September futures contract jumped another 2% on Friday. The contract briefly traded near $47 earlier in the overnight electronic session.

In Venezuela on Sunday, voters rejected a referendum seeking the recall of controversial President Hugo Chavez, which eased concerns about possible civil unrest in Latin America's largest producer.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter, repeated its determination to use remaining excess capacity to cool price speculation.

Exports from Iraq, however, remained at about half their normal rate, in the wake of the latest sabotage attacks on the country's production and pipeline facilities.

In Russia, there were no new major developments in the high-stakes tax battle between the government and the nation's biggest oil company


, a tug-of-war drama that has sparked frequent concerns for its potential to slow exports.

Crude oil prices have routinely hit record highs in the past two weeks, following a modest decline from their June high as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased its official production level by some 2.5 million barrels a day.