August 4, 2009 / 2:47 AM / in 9 years

Oil falls on profit-taking, market awaits U.S. data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Tuesday on expectations data will show a rise in U.S. crude inventories and profit-taking following three days of gains.

Flames are seen at Baba Gurgur oil field in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad August 3, 2009. Picture taken August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

U.S. crude settled down 16 cents at $71.42 a barrel, after rising nearly 13 percent in the previous three sessions. In London, Brent crude rose 73 cents to settle at $74.28 a barrel.

Pressure came on forecasts that weekly U.S. data would show an increase in crude stockpiles. A Reuters poll of analysts estimated U.S. crude inventories rose 800,000 barrels in the week to July 31, while distillate stocks were seen rising by 1.2 million barrels.

The American Petroleum Institute was to release its weekly inventory report late on Tuesday, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration report due out on Wednesday.

A general view of Nahr Al-Umran gas refinery in Al-Dier District, northern Basra July 17, 2009. REUTERS/Atef Hassan

“The gains of the past few days deteriorated as expectations for a further build to stockpiles grew and prompted some profit-taking,” Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president at MF Global in New York, wrote in a research note.

Concerns about a rebound in the economy also weighed on oil prices, traders said.

Flames are seen at the Baba Gurgur oil field in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad August 3, 2009. Picture taken August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

Commerce Department data showed U.S. consumers spent more in June and there was positive news for the housing market, but a big drop in incomes pointed to a slow recovery from the worst recession in decades.

Optimism that a potential turnaround in the global economy could lift sagging oil demand has helped send crude up from lows below $33 a barrel in December, with energy traders keeping an eye on equities markets for signs of an economic rebound.

U.S. stocks edged lower as investors booked profits after the recent rally, offsetting economic data showing contracts for home sales rose more than expected in June. .N

Pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose at a faster-than-expected pace in June, advancing for the fifth month in a row, according to the National Association of Realtors, a real estate trade group.

Energy traders also were watching an area of thunderstorms in the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands associated with a tropical wave. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it had less than a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm.

Traders closely monitor storm activity for signs of potential disruptions to supplies of crude and natural gas from offshore installations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Colorado State University on Tuesday lowered its forecast for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic for 2009.

Reporting by Matthew Robinson, Robert Gibbons and Gene Ramos in New York; Christopher Johnson in London; Editing by David Gregorio

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