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Tickers in this Article: UUP, XOM, CVX, TOT, BP, PBR, EC
Amid some more weak U.S. economic data and ahead of Thursday's OPEC meeting in Vienna, oil prices declined on Thursday, falling to new eight-month lows. NYMEX-traded crude for July delivery fell 70 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $82.62 a barrel. In London, Brent crude for July delivery gave up a penny to close at $97.13. That's a new 17-month low for the global benchmark contract. Oil's losses came despite a down day for the U.S. dollar. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (NYSE: UUP) closed modestly lower. In economic news, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.2% last month following a revised 0.2% drop in April. Excluding the 2.2% decline in gasoline sales, retail sales increased 0.1% in May. The April/May declines were the first consecutive drops in retail sales in two years. Falling energy prices should be good news for consumers and that scenario may eventually be born out, but for now, the U.S. economic recovery is still viewed as fragile and that's pressuring oil prices.

As noted earlier, OPEC meets tomorrow, but most analysts and traders are not expecting any major news from the 12-nation cartel on the quota front. The cartel pumped almost 31.6 million barrels per day last month, which was nearly 1.6 million barrels a day more than the group's total production limit agreed upon in December, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest producer, has upped production and is currently pumping around 10 million barrels per day. Oddly enough, the kingdom has given no indication it plans to trim production despite the recent tumble in oil prices.

In other oil news, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. oil inventories fell by 200,000 barrels last week, but that decline is not nearly enough to put a dent in inventories that still reside at 22-year highs.

U.S. stocks endured another choppy, volatile session, swinging between small gains and large losses and oil equities were pressured in the process. Dow components Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX) both endured modes losses. Things weren't any better for the European integrateds as BP (NYSE: BP) lost half a percent and France's Total (NYSE: TOT) dropped 1.8% on volume that was just half the daily average.

Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) was a curious winner on the day, gaining almost 1%, but Colombia's Ecopetrol (NYSE: EC) gave up nearly the same amount on what was a weak day overall for emerging markets equities.

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