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Oil falls amid mixed signs on US economic recovery

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[October 28, 2009]  SINGAPORE (AP) -- Oil prices fell to near $79 a barrel Wednesday in Asia amid mixed signals about the strength of the U.S. economic recovery.

Benchmark crude for December delivery was down 37 cents to $79.18 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 87 cents to settle at $79.55 on Tuesday.

Oil has retreated from a one-year high of $82 a barrel hit last week as investors look for signs of a sustainable U.S. economy to justify further crude price gains.


On Tuesday, the Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index fell unexpectedly in October to its second-lowest reading since May while the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index gained the third straight month in August.

U.S. oil inventories dropped last week, a sign crude demand may be rebounding. The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude stocks fell 3.5 million barrels while analysts had expected a rise of 900,000 barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release its supply data later Wednesday.

Crude investors have been encouraged by a rally in global stock markets since March.

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"As long as the equities markets stay stable and the perception is out there that the global economy will grow, then the price of oil should go up," Seattle-based Sander Capital Advisors said in a report.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil fell 1.01 cents to $2.05 a gallon. Gasoline for November delivery dropped 0.83 cent to $2.06 a gallon. Natural gas for November delivery rose 2.5 cents to $4.58 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude for December delivery fell 41 cents to $77.51 on the ICE Futures exchange.

[Associated Press; By ALEX KENNEDY]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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