Oil prices languish under 75 dollars
World oil prices eased on Tuesday, holding underneath 75 dollars per barrel as traders fretted over performances by the US retail and corporate sectors, analysts said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, weakened 30 cents to 74.65 dollars a barrel.
London Brent North Sea crude for August declined 26 cents to 74.11 dollars in morning trade.
"Energy markets should be confined to relatively broad trading ranges and, at least for now, we see no compelling reason for values to take off in either direction," said MF Global analyst Ed Meir, cited by Dow Jones Newswires.
The market dropped below 75 dollars on Monday, as traders cashed in gains and awaited economic data and the start of the US corporate earnings season.
Worries about the US economy clouded sentiment on Tuesday, with analysts predicting a slightly worse performance when US retail sales statistics are released on Wednesday.
"Crude prices have been quite correlated with economic data.... If the retail sales fell worse than expected, yes" crude prices would fall, said Serene Lim, oil and gas analyst with ANZ bank in Singapore.
The market also shrugged off US aluminium giant Alcoa's better-than-expected earnings report on Monday, which kicked off the corporate earnings season.
Alcoa, the first of the 30 blue-chip Dow industrials to report second-quarter earnings, said it had swung to a second-quarter net profit of 136 million dollars compared with a loss of 454 million dollars a year ago.
Earnings per share of 13 cents came in slightly better than the average forecast of 12 cents.
Results are expected in the coming days from Google, General Electric, Citigroup, Bank of America, Intel and JPMorgan Chase.
© 2010 AFP