News In Brief

DoubleClick Inc., the nation's largest Internet advertising agency, laid off at least 120 employees this week. But the New York-based company said less than 10 percent of its 2,104-person workforce was affected. DoubleClick is the third Internet ad agency, after 24/7 Media Inc. and Engage Inc., to announce job cuts in recent months - a sign of a steep decline in ad spending by dotcom companies, analysts said.

For the first time since early August, the average price per barrel of crude oil on world markets fell below $28, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said. The cartel, which has increased output four times in the past 12 months, uses a pricing scale to determine its production policy. Under that policy, if crude futures prices remain above $28 per barrel for 20 consecutive days, OPEC can elect to increase production by 500,000 barrels a day. OPEC said its "basket" of seven different grades of crude opened at $26.58 per barrel yesterday after earlier soaring to 10-year highs above $35. Among other reasons, analysts attributed the new low to a needed buildup of gasoline and heating oil stocks in the US.

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