Oil prices make subdued start to week

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World oil prices fell on Monday when sentiment was dampened by downbeat US data which has spurred concerns about slow demand in the world's biggest energy consumer, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, slid seven cents to 75.94 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for September reversed 12 cents to stand at 75.25 dollars per barrel in morning London trade.

"Oil prices have come off somewhat and the US economic data released (last week) was a little bit on the soft side," said David Moore, a Sydney-based commodity strategist with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. "That certainly is a factor that is acting to dent the oil price at present."

Economic reports released on Friday renewed concerns about the US economic recovery.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped almost 10 points -- far steeper than forecast -- to 66.5 in July. A government report showed inflation remained tame as the fragile recovery curbs price rises.

Moore said lingering negative sentiment would keep prices at the lower end of a 74 to 78 dollar range in the near term, but they were relatively stable despite concerns about the impact of the sluggish economy on oil demand.

"There is still some negative sentiment, but at the moment (the price) hasn't fallen precipitously. Given the data flow, the oil price has certainly proved to be relatively resilient," Moore added.

© 2010 AFP

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