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Economy Mar 20, 2012

Oil slips from 10-month high to below $108 ahead of US data

Singapore : Oil prices fell to below $108 a barrel on Tuesday in Asia, slipping from near 10-month highs ahead of new data on the US economy.

Benchmark Oil for April delivery was down 57 cents to $107.52 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.03 to settle at $108.09 in New York on Monday.

Tensions over Iran's nuclear programme have helped to keep high prices at elevated levels. Reuters

Brent crude for May delivery was down 56 cents at $125.15 a barrel in London.

Crude has jumped from $96 last month and $75 in October as signs of an improving US economy boost investor confidence. Oil traders often look to stock markets as a gauge of overall investor sentiment, and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.4 percent Monday to its highest close since May 20, 2008. Asian stocks were mostly lower Tuesday.

Data on US housing and jobless claims later this week is likely to provide fresh cues for the oil market. A private survey of the US homebuilding industry on Monday found that companies are increasingly hopeful that home sales will rise in coming months.

Tensions over Iran's nuclear programme have helped to keep high prices at elevated levels. A military attack by Israel or the US against Iran's nuclear facilities would likely trigger a crude price spike while renewed diplomatic negotiations would probably cause prices to drop.

"The market is anticipating additional favorable US economic news," energy trader and consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "And until concerns ease regarding Iranian risk, the market appears capable of maintaining price gains, especially if equities remain strong."

In other energy trading, heating oil was down 1.4 cents at $3.26 per gallon and gasoline futures slid 1 cent at $3.35 per gallon. Natural gas fell 0.4 cent at $2.35 per 1,000 cubic feet.

AP


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