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Crude oil futures plunge

NEW YORK, DEC. 11. Crude oil futures plunged on Friday to settle below $41 for the first time in nearly five months, as traders branded OPEC's (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) production cut as too conservative to stem sliding prices.

Refined-product futures on the Nymex also sank, with heating oil futures nearing a three-month low, and gasoline futures falling to more than an eight-month low.

"This is a defining moment in the oil market,'' said Ed Silliere, a trader for Energy Merchant Corp., a New York energy supplier to marketers. "Bear markets shrug off bullish news and that's exactly what we've had today.''

Benchmark light, sweet crude oil futures for January fell $1.82 to $40.71 barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. ``Forty-dollar crude is a fait accompli now,'' Silliere predicted.

In London, Brent crude oil for January settled at $37.38 a barrel, down $2.29 on the International Petroleum Exchange.

After meeting Friday in Cairo, oil ministers from the OPEC decided to shave one million barrels a day off current oil-production levels January 1. — AP

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