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Gas prices down; oil tops $44

Another day, another price decline at the pumps.

Another day, another price decline at the pumps.

The average price of a gallon of regular no-lead slipped 2 cents overnight in the five-county Philadelphia area, to $1.84.

South Jersey's average was down 2 cents, to $1.56; the national average also was down 2 cents, to $1.68.

Diesel prices also were down: down 3 cents a gallon, to $2.88, in the Philly area; down 2 cents, to $2.55, in South Jersey; and down 1 cent, to $2.62, at the national level.

Oil prices rose above $44 a barrel today as the market looked to an expected OPEC production cut next week to help stabilize prices that have plummeted in recent months amid slowing global economic growth.

Anticipation of the OPEC move has somewhat offset traders' expectations that weaker growth will cut into demand well into next year.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery was up $2.13 to $44.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by afternoon in Europe. Yesterday, the contract fell $1.64 to settle at $42.07.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for about 40 percent of global crude supply, has signaled that it plans to significantly reduce output quotas at a meeting Dec. 17 in Algeria.

Investors expect OPEC to slash production by at least 1.5 million barrels a day, matching the group's cut in October.