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Commodities slide hits Southeast Asia

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A worker collects oil palm fruit inside a palm oil factory in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Crude oil's dramatic tumble is weighing down international prices of commodities, especially those produced in Southeast Asia, such as natural rubber and palm oil. Further taking a toll on such products is a flight of investor cash from the commodities market as the dollar strengthens against the yen and other Asian currencies.

     For the Southeast Asian economies that rely heavily on exports of those materials, the oil slump is having an indirect but painful impact.

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