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Oil prices slump as drivers put brakes on

OIL prices fell below US$43 a barrel in Asia yesterday as a jump in United States' crude inventories underlined that slumping consumer demand is unlikely to recover anytime soon.

New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for March delivery, was down 77 cents to 42.90 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil inventories in the US had increased by 6.1 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration.

Analysts had expected a boost of only 1.9 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Crude stocks have now surged 14 million barrels in the last three weeks.

Inventories rose by 6.5 million barrels, three times more than that expected by analysts, underscoring the collapse in demand as US drivers cut back on trips.


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