Crude oil prices fell for the third straight day on Wednesday, briefly dipping below $72 a barrel after a surprising increase in US gasoline supplies.
Analysts said selling also was spurred by the rising belief in the market that the conflict in Israel and Lebanon would not spread and thus threaten Middle East oil supplies.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's latest assessment of a slowing economy may also have played a role, by implying that demand could weaken.
Oil futures have plunged 5 percent since settling at a record above $77 a barrel on Friday.
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