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Oil markets limp into fourth quarter

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Jim Cole/AP/File

(Read caption) Gas prices are seen over $4.00 a gallon Thursday in Twin Mountain, N.H. The drag on crude oil prices was exacerbated by reports that crude oil output from the US increased 11,000 barrels per day to 6.52 million bpd, its highest level in more than 16 years.

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On-going concerns over the global economy helped push oil prices to recent lows, with U.S. and foreign futures down more than 2.5 percent in recent trading. Most major U.S. stock indices, meanwhile, started off the fourth quarter in the black, though trouble in the Eurozone and weak economic reports from China dampened overall expectations for the global economy. A weak economy translates to weak demand for petroleum products.  A decrease in crude oil stocks reported by the U.S. Energy Department, meanwhile, could be a sign of a rough future for energy markets.

European indices were in negative territory in Wednesday trading amid lingering concerns over the Spanish economy. One European fund manager described the Spanish debt crisis as "problematic."  The Asian Development Bank, meanwhile, cut its growth estimate for China's gross domestic product from 8.5 percent predicted in April to 7.7 percent. ADB's Chief Economist Changyong Rhee said global forecasts "especially from Europe" meant there would likely be a "a serious drag on growth in the near term." (RELATED: The Devastating Economic Impact of Constantly High Oil Prices

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