SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell to near $83 a barrel Thursday in Asia after a weakening U.S. dollar helped crude surge to a 17-month high the previous day.
Benchmark crude for May delivery was down 41 cents to $83.35 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract climbed by $1.39 to settle at $83.76 on Wednesday, the highest settlement since October 2008, as the U.S. currency weakened, making commodities such as oil cheaper for investors with currencies other than dollars.
The euro was steady at $1.3510 on Thursday.
Oil prices have jumped from $69 a barrel in early February on investor expectations that a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy this year will eventually boost crude consumption.
So far, demand remains sluggish. The Energy Information Administration said crude inventories rose by 2.9 million barrels last week, slightly more than analysts expected.
"A good portion of the buying seems to have come on 'good vibrations,' the vague sense that the economic recovery is gaining momentum, and that that should lead to heavier demand for oil products," consultancy Cameron Hanover said in a report.
Trading volume was low ahead of the Good Friday holiday, when global oil trading will be closed.
In other Nymex trading in April contracts, heating oil fell 1.20 cents to $2.167 a gallon, and gasoline slid 1 cent to $2.297 a gallon. Natural gas was steady at $3.870 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude was down 32 cents at $82.38 on the ICE futures exchange.