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Oil falls below $66 ahead of US economic reports

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[September 28, 2009]  SINGAPORE (AP) -- Oil prices fell below $66 a barrel Monday in Asia as regional stock markets sank and investors eyed a slew of economic data this week that will help shed light on the health of the U.S. economy.

InsuranceBenchmark crude for November delivery was down 46 cents at $65.56 a barrel by late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract added 13 cents to settle at $66.02.

Asian stocks were weaker with Japan's market hit by the yen reaching a nine-month high against the dollar and after Wall Street fell Friday on disappointing U.S. economic data. Reports on manufacturing and home sales stoked concerns over recovery prospects in the world's largest economy.

Crude is flirting with the bottom of a $65 to $75 trading range that has held for months as traders weigh signs of an improving global economy against evidence that consumer demand remains weak.

The most closely watched economic indicator will be the Labor Department's monthly jobs report on Friday. Investors will also get reports on home prices, manufacturing, consumer confidence, construction spending and factory orders.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for October delivery fell 0.95 cent to $1.61 a gallon, and heating oil was steady at $1.67 a gallon. Natural gas was down 1.2 cents to $3.97 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude fell 44 cents to $64.67 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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