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Hurricane Ivan, OPEC Drive Oil Prices

Crude oil prices were pulled in opposite directions by natural and man-made forces Wednesday.

The October futures contract closed 81 cents, or 1.9%, lower at $43.60 in regular floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, erasing gains earlier in the session.

Hurricane Ivan moved toward the Gulf of Mexico, where about half of the basin's natural gas and oil facilities had been shut down, while the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries met in Vienna, Austria, where it decided to increase its official production ceiling another 1 million barrels a day, or about 4%. Meanwhile, two weekly surveys both showed a larger-than-expected decline in crude inventories.

OPEC's latest increase, following two previous ones earlier in the summer totaling 2.5 million barrels a day, puts the cartel's output level at 27 million barrels a day. Given chronic cheating on individual quotas, the move is largely symbolic.

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