The price of crude oil hit its lowest level in 6 1/2 years Friday amid concerns over a slowing economy in China, a huge energy consumer, and strong global production.

Stacks and burn-off from the Exxon Mobil refinery are seen at dusk in St. Bernard Parish, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

The U.S. crude contract fell as low as $41.35 a barrel, the weakest level since early 2009, when the global economy was in the throes of a massive financial crisis and recession.

By late morning in Europe, the price was around $42 a barrel. The oil contract has been declining since touching a high of $61.43 on June 10. The main reasons are big increases in production in the U.S. and Canada, as well as expectations Iran's oil could soon return to the market.


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