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Crude Lingers Near 3-week Low

The price of crude oil moved back near a three-week low Thursday morning amid a generally steady U.S. dollar.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for January delivery, shed $0.54 to $86.23 a barrel. Yesterday, oil ended higher after the Fed announced that it will replace its "Operation Twist" program, which expires at the end of the year, with the purchase of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month.

Wednesday during trading hours, the EIA said that U.S. crude oil inventories moved up 0.80 million barrels and gasoline stocks jumped 5.00 million barrels in the weekended December 07. Analysts expected crude oil inventories to dip by 2.50 million barrels last week.

This morning, the U.S. dollar was trading near its one-week low versus the euro and a 5-week low against sterling. The buck was hovering near its 9-month high versus the yen and flat against the Swiss franc.

In economic news from the euro zone, the Swiss National Bank decided to leave its minimum exchange rate of CHF 1.20 per euro unchanged as widely expected by economists. The target range for the three-month Libor was maintained at 0.0-0.25 percent.

Traders will look to the report on producer price index for November from the Labor Department, due out at 8:30 am ET. Economists expect the headline index for November to have declined by 0.5 percent, while core producer prices may have risen by 0.2 percent.

Simultaneously, the Commerce Department will release its retail sales report. For November, economists estimate a 0.6 percent increase each in retail sales. Excluding autos, sales are expected to have remained unchanged.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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