[OIL PRICES] Crude Oil Drops for a Third Day Amid Economic Slowdown Concern

Crude oil declined for a third day amid concerns that slower economic growth will curb consumption of oil products.

Oil has retreated more than $7 from yesterday's record of $139.89 a barrel. German investor confidence dropped to the lowest in more than 15 years in June as surging inflation hit Europe's largest economy. The U.K. inflation rate rose to the highest since at least 1997 in May, paving the way for higher interest rates.

``Worries about economic inflation on both sides of the Atlantic are bearish for oil,'' said Rob Laughlin, senior broker at MF Global Ltd. in London.

Crude oil for July delivery fell as much as $2.11, or 1.6 percent, to $132.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and traded at $132.92 at 12:31 p.m. London time. Yesterday, the contract touched a record $139.89.

StatoilHydro ASA, Norway's largest oil and natural-gas producer, said its North Sea Oseberg field may resume operations this week after a fire on platform A halted production June 15.

Brent crude oil for August settlement was at $132.78 a barrel, $1.93 lower, on London's ICE Futures Europe Exchange at 11:29 a.m. local time. Prices reached a record $139.32 a barrel yesterday.

Saudi Arabia, hosting a forum in Jeddah this weekend to address the impact of record prices on importers, will raise output 200,000 barrels to 9.7 million barrels a day next month, King Abdullah told United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, according to a UN spokesman.

`Moving Supply'
``With the pressure OPEC has seen from the Western world that they need to respond, they've been taking the tack that demand is strong,'' said Mark Pervan, a commodity strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Melbourne. ``That gives them a reason to start moving supply upward.''

The kingdom has called a meeting in Jeddah on June 22 to help stabilize prices. Crude oil fell 2.7 percent in New York last week as Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi described the surge in the commodity as ``unjustified'' and called a meeting of producers, major industrial nations and banks.

U.S. crude stockpiles probably dropped 1.5 million barrels in the week ended June 13 from 302.2 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg survey before tomorrow's Energy Department report. Gasoline stockpiles probably climbed 1 million barrels from 210.1 million barrels the prior week, according to the median of responses.

Source: Bloomberg|By Grant Smith

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