Crude oil price plunges over 3% on U.S. market

13:54, March 16, 2011      

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U.S. crude oil price on Tuesday fell below 98 dollars a barrel after opening higher at 101.86 dollars, as a deepening nuclear crisis in Japan and rising a radiation leak triggered risk aversion across financial markets.

New York benchmark crude for April delivery was down 3.39 dollars, or 3.35 percent at 97.80 barrels a barrel at early trading session on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The future contract gained 3 cents Monday to settle at 101.19 dollars on Monday.

In London, Brent crude was down 4.52 dollars, or 3.58 percent at 109.15 dollars a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami has also hit demand for oil by shutting down five Japanese refineries. The affected refineries have combined daily capacity of 1.4 million barrels of oil, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday radiation that has spread from four reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was enough to "impact human health" and the risk of more leaks was "very high."

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average plunged as much as 14 percent Tuesday before closing down 10.55 percent after a 6.18-percent drop Monday.

Source: Xinhua
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