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January 11, 2007 4:00 PM, EST

Crude Oil Plunges to Close Trading at Below $52 a Barrel

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Crude oil closed at below $52 a barrel Thursday for the first time in 19 months after a report showed that U.S. fuel consumption plunged to the lowest since April 2004, Bloomberg reported.Crude oil futures for February delivery fell $2.14, or 4%, to $51.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest close since May 27, 2005. Prices are down 19% from a year ago, Bloomberg reported.Meanwhile, OPEC President Mohamed al-Hamli, urged members to comply with output cuts they agreed to make in November and February, Bloomber reported.Fuel use dropped 4% last week as mild weather curbed heating-oil use, the Department of Energy said in its weekly report Wednesday, which also showed that supplies of gasoline and distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, rose a fourth week.(Click here for previous coverage.)