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Oil falls amid slowing demand

SINGAPORE — Oil prices fell below $106 a barrel today in Asia — $10 below its close Friday before the Labor Day weekend — as investors shifted their focus to slowing global demand after worries about Hurricane Gustav subsided.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery was trading at $106.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midafternoon in Singapore, and at one point dropped as low as $105.46.

On Monday, when U.S. trading was closed for Labor Day, the contract had plunged $4.34 to $111.12 a barrel in late electronic trading. On Friday, the contract settled at $115.46 a barrel.

Traders were relieved that Gustav weakened as it approached the offshore oil rigs and Louisiana refineries, and appeared to have caused less damage than expected in New Orleans and surrounding areas. But they quickly turned their attention to slowing global economic growth, speculating that will dampen demand for crude oil, even in developing countries such as China and India.

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