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Sector Snap: Oil stocks decline after China report

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of companies in the oil sector fell Monday after China reported that its economic growth slowed in the first three months of the year.

Analysts had expected China, the world's second-largest economy, to post slightly stronger growth. Instead the government said the Chinese economy grew by 7.7 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012. The economy grew 7.9 percent in the last three months of 2012.

A slowdown in China's growth added to doubts about the strength of the world economy and global demand for crude.

The price of oil dropped to a four-month low Monday. West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark crude in the U.S., dropped $2.19, or 2.4 percent, to $89.10 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It's dropped more than 8 percent the past two weeks.

Among oil producers, shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. fell $1.62 to $87.36, Chevron Corp. shares lost $2.69, or 2.2 percent, to $117.25, ConocoPhillips shares retreated $1.57, or 2.6 percent, to $57.79 and Occidental Petroleum Corp. shares dipped $1.71, or 2.1 percent, to $81.68.

Oil refiners also fell. Valero Energy Corp. slumped $2.04, or 5 percent, to $38.87, and Marathon Petroleum Corp. stock dropped $2.57, or 3.2 percent, to $77.72.

Among oilfield service stocks, Schlumberger Ltd. declined $2.72, or 3.6 percent, to $72.94, Halliburton Co. skidded $1.84, or 4.5 percent, to $39.02 and Baker Hughes Inc. slipped $1.24, or 2.7 percent, to $44.76.