August 24, 2010 / 6:52 AM / 7 years ago

Oil slumps a 5th day as economy fears persist

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil fell for a fifth straight session on Tuesday, ending at the lowest settlement in 11 weeks as weak U.S. economic data and high inventories stoked oil demand concerns.

U.S. refined products futures also continued their slide and RBOB gasoline futures slumped to a 2010 low intraday.

U.S. crude for October delivery fell $1.47, or 2.01 percent to settle at $72.05 a barrel, the lowest settlement since front-month crude closed at $71.44 on June 7.

Prices fell to $71.32 in post-settlement trading, lowest intraday front-month price since the $71.09 low struck July 7.

Total U.S. crude trading volume was at more than 555,706 on Tuesday, more than Monday's 415,365 total, but slightly below the 30-day average of 587,516 per session.

Money managers cut net long crude oil positions on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the week to August 17. [ID:nN20151550] But with the net long position at 108,874, there was still room for long-position liquidation.

On Tuesday, October ICE Brent crude fell $1.24 to settle at $72.38 a barrel.

Crude oil prices and U.S. equities extended losses after an industry group report showed sales of previously owned U.S. homes dropped more steeply than expected in July.

"Existing home data was worse than expected and is putting pressure on everything," said Tom Bentz, broker at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures Inc in New York.

U.S. stocks slumped to their lowest in seven weeks as equities also were pressured by the report showing poor home sales. .N

The yen rose to a 15-year high against the dollar and was also up against the euro as investors sought a safe haven on fears the global economy is slowing. <USD/>

Oil prices received no lift from Hurricane Danielle, which on Tuesday was expected to pose no threat to Gulf of Mexico energy operations.

INVENTORIES IN FOCUS NEXT

U.S. crude oil stocks were forecast to have risen slightly last week, by 200,000 barrels, according to an expanded Reuters poll of analysts ahead of weekly inventory reports.

The market shrugged off data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute, arriving late Tuesday, that showed crude stocks fell 1.8 million barrels last week.

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The API said gasoline stocks rose 692,000 barrels, against a forecast for stocks to be down 400,000 barrels, and that distillate inventories rose 1.9 million barrels, more than the 1.1 million-barrel rise expected.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's report is due on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT).

Last week, EIA data showed U.S. combined crude oil and products stocks in the week to August 13 rose to the highest level since weekly records began in 1990. Monthly data showed the combined levels were the highest since 1980.

On Tuesday, MasterCard said U.S. weekly retail gasoline demand fell 1.2 percent in the week ending August 20, despite lower prices.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. RBOB gasoline futures for September delivery fell 3.16 cents, or 1.68 percent, to settle at $1.8494 a gallon, falling to $1.8368 intraday, lowest since prices fell to $1.8263 on December 17, 2009. U.S. September heating oil fell 1.97 cents to settle at $1.9357 a gallon.

The September refined products contracts expire August 31.

Additional reporting by Gene Ramos in New York, Emma Farge in London and Alejandro Barbajosa in Singapore; Editing by David Gregorio

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