Oil prices dip before US inventory data
Oil prices fell slightly on Wednesday before the release of closely-watched data on US energy inventories after figures showed waning consumer confidence in the United States.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, lost 15 cents at 77.33 dollars a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for September dropped nine cents to 76.04 dollars in midday London trade.
The US Department of Energy will publish its latest weekly snapshot of inventories in the world's biggest oil consuming nation at 1430 GMT.
"Falling consumer confidence (in the United States) and the growing likelihood of a double-dip in house prices have put a further dent in the already deteriorating outlook for consumption growth," research house Capital Economics said in a note to clients.
"Without consumers on board, the economic recovery is looking dangerously vulnerable."
The United States is the world's biggest economy and the largest energy consuming nation.
Oil prices tumbled in US trade Tuesday after a closely-watched survey showed that American consumer confidence plunged to its worst level in five months due to concerns about unemployment amid an uncertain economic outlook.
The Conference Board, a business research firm, said its consumer confidence index, which had declined sharply in June, retreated further this month.
The index fell to 50.4 points from 54.3 last month and is now at its lowest level since February.
"It appears that lower equity prices, signs of a slowdown in activity and fears that the jobs recovery is fading have wiped out the previous optimism," Capital Economics said.
© 2010 AFP