Oil falls below $80 for third day of losses

SINGAPORE: Oil prices slipped below $80 a barrel Monday in Asia as traders looked to this week's company earnings and U.S. economic data for evidence that justifies last week's jump to a 2009 high.

Benchmark crude for December delivery fell 74 cents to $79.76 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 69 cents a barrel to settle at $80.50 on Friday.

Crude prices, which rose to $82 last week, fell for a third day on investor doubts about the strength of the global economic recovery and as the dollar strengthened.

Traders will be looking to a slew of corporate results and economic indicators for guidance this week. The Commerce Department is scheduled to announce third-quarter gross domestic product, with reports on housing prices, new home sales, consumer confidence and durable goods orders also due during the week.

Third-quarter earnings from Kellogg Co., Procter & Gamble Co. and Visa Inc. will provide insight into consumer spending while ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., Aetna Inc. and MetLife Inc. are also expected to announce results.

Crude has been trading higher on days when the U.S. dollar weakens, but that trend broke Monday. The euro rose to $1.5037 from $1.4998 on Friday while the dollar fell to 91.72 yen from 92.13.

Some analysts expect the oil market to focus more on weak supply and demand data if the U.S. Federal Reserve raises interest rates to contain inflation.

"At some point, the Fed will raise interest rates again," energy consultancy Cameron Hanover said in a report. "That could be 16-24 months of weaker equities and stronger dollar values."

In other Nymex trading, heating oil fell 1.16 cents to $2.06 a gallon. Gasoline for November delivery dropped 1.13 cents to $2.03 a gallon. Natural gas for November delivery slid 9.0 cents to $4.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude for December delivery fell 66 cents to $78.26 on the ICE Futures exchange.