Oil futures prices fell sharply in profit-taking on the world markets Friday, as the futures market downplayed the latest incident in the war-torn Persian Gulf.
Prices plunged by as much as 75 cents a barrel after the United States said it planned no immediate retaliation for an incident in which a mine damaged a Kuwaiti oil tanker under U.S. Navy escort in the Persian Gulf.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas intermediate--the benchmark U.S. crude for immediate delivery--plummeted by 66 cents to $20.57 a barrel. On the U.S. Gulf Coast spot market, West Texas intermediate tumbled by 75 cents to $20.75 a barrel. A barrel is equivalent to 42 gallons.
Analysts said traders cashed in on profits made in the recent crude oil rally that pushed up prices by at least $2 a barrel.