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The largest cut in production in OPEC history appeared to have no immediate impact on the slide in crude oil futures prices. Trading in contracts for January delivery ends Friday, and OPEC's 2.2 million-barrel-a-day cut only served to send prices down another $1.90 in European trading, to $38.16 – a level last seen in mid-2004. But analysts said a more accurate reflection of the OPEC cut would be February futures, which were opening at $45.21 a barrel in Europe.

Senior generals and at least 17 other people in Iraq's Interior Ministry have been arrested for allegedly planning to rebuild the outlawed Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, officials said Thursday. Among the detainees are both Shiites and Sunnis, the officials said, calling them a "semiorganized group." But they disputed a New York Times report that the suspects were plotting a coup against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Baathists, an offshoot of the Arab nationalist movement founded in neighboring Syria, ruled Iraq for 35 years. Banning the party was the first official act of the US occupation authority after Hussein's regime fell in 2003.

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