Oil tumbles 9% to below $46

Stronger dollar, weak demand and rising supply weigh on crude prices.

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By Julianne Pepitone and Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff writers

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The price of oil fell sharply Monday as the dollar advanced and investors remained concerned about weak demand and rising inventories.

Crude prices tumbled $4.45, or almost 9%, to settle at $45.88 a barrel Monday.

Oil prices were expected to trade in a "mixed-to-lower direction" this week, according to Tom Pawlicki, an energy analyst at MF Global in Chicago.

In a recent research report he wrote that weak demand, soaring supply and evidence that oil prices may not be following the higher trends in the stock market are all placing downward pressure on prices.

At the same time, a stronger dollar also weighed on the oil market. The dollar was up against the euro and the pound amid heightened risk aversion and questions about the European Central Bank's interest rate policy.

A more robust greenback pushes crude prices lower because oil is priced in U.S. dollars across the world.

In its weekly inventory report last Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration said crude stocks rose 5.6 million barrels - more than double what analysts expected - in the week ended April 10.

Gasoline: The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline increased to $2.058, up one-tenth of a cent from the previous day, according to motorist group AAA.

The average price of a gallon is down $2.056, or 49%, from the record-high price of $4.114 that AAA reported July 17, 2008.  To top of page

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