Global Oil Glut Sends Prices Plunging

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By Russell Gold

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Oil prices posted their biggest one-day drop in nearly two years Tuesday as a U.S.-led wave of crude has crashed into weak global demand, threatening the stability of some countries and providing an economic lifeline to others.

Tuesday’s slide of 4.5% by U.S. crude oil to $81.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange left the price down 20% since the start of June. That was the lowest closing price since June 2012, and some analysts predict the price will fall as much as $10 a barrel lower.

The same factors that sank prices Tuesday are behind oil’s four-month tumble, which is pressuring countries from Russia to Iran to Venezuela. World-wide demand is stagnant, and the International Energy Agency cut its full-year oil-demand growth forecast Tuesday to the lowest level in five years.

Yet oil output remains high. In the U.S., hydraulic fracturing has unleashed a torrent of new crude that is flooding the market. U.S. output is expected to increase again this year, according to Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup Inc. Lower crude prices could slow next year’s growth.

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