Oil falls below $67 on weak US consumption

SINGAPORE: Oil prices slipped below $67 a barrel Monday in Asia on investor concerns crude demand will remain weak amid a slow global economic recovery.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 59 cents to $66.92 a barrel by midday in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract lost $3.01 to settle at $67.51.

Friday's big selloff was triggered by a sharp drop in the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, a bad sign for crude demand, which has already been sluggish this summer.

Oil also followed stocks down as the major Asian indexes fell in early trading Monday.

"We've got overwhelmingly weak fundamentals in oil," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with consultancy Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. "The market has really been due for a correction."

Investors brushed off evidence that the global recession is over. Japan said Monday that its economy grew an annualized 3.7 percent in the second quarter, breaking out of a yearlong recession.

"The worst of the recession may be over, but for most economies, especially the U.S., the recovery may still be quite slow," Shum said.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for September delivery was steady at $1.94 a gallon and heating oil held at $1.84. Natural gas for September delivery fell 3.0 cents to $3.21 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent prices dropped $1.48 to $70.93 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.