WTI trades below $104 per barrel

Crude prices jump on weaker dollarCrude oil prices were lower Tuesday as Hurricane Ike weakened and shifted course, making it less likely that it will hit key Gulf of Mexico oil and gas facilities.

Still, some companies were evacuating some workers from offshore platforms and securing Gulf Coast refineries as forecasters warned that Ike could still strengthen and turn north again from its new, more southerly track that has it heading for landfall in northern Mexico or southern Texas.

Additionally, investors were waiting for news from a meeting of oil ministers from member nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, to see whether the cartel would cut production or leave it at present levels.

Early indications were that quotas would probably be held steady despite lobbying by some member nations, as several OPEC officials made statements favoring the maintenance of current quotas.

October contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude were down $3.19 to $103.15 per barrel at around the close of floor trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude was last reported down $2.24 to $101.20 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

In afternoon trade, Nymex October gasoline was down 10 cents to $2.66 per gallon while October heating oil had dropped 8 cents to $2.93 per gallon and October natural gas was holding steady at $7.53 per million British thermal units.

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