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Oil’s price skid deepens on report that Saudi crude plant may return to normal in 2 or 3 weeks

A slide for crude accelerated early Tuesday after a report indicated that major plants in Saudi Arabia that were damaged in a weekend strike may return online sooner than expected. A report from Reuters, citing unnamed a top Saudi official, said that Saudi Aramco may restore about 70% of the 5.7 million barrel-per-day of output knocked off line on Saturday. The Reuters reported indicated that the damaged facilities could be back online in the next two or three weeks. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery , the U.S. benchmark contract, was $3.10, or or 5%, lower at $59.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after the largest daily gain for the most-active contract since Sept. 22, 2008, according to Dow Jones Market Data. On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq plant and its Khurais oil field were thrown offline an, shutting down an estimated 5.7 million barrels of the kingdom’s crude oil production a day. Saudi Arabia has said it has enough oil in storage to make up the lost production for about 30 days, but it was believed that it would take weeks or months to repair the damage to the processing plant and oil fields. Brent prices, the international benchmark, were down 6.3% at $64.70 a barrel, adding to earlier losses on the day. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

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