Oil prices fall in Asian trade on technical drawback

SINGAPORE: Oil prices slid in early Asian trade on Friday as traders took profits following Thursday's rally, analysts said.

New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for September delivery, shed 66 cents to 66.50 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September fell 45 cents to 68.80 dollars.

"I think most of it seems to be technical factors arising from crude prices rising to three-week highs," said Ben Westmore, a minerals and energy economist with the National Australia Bank in Melbourne.

Oil prices surged on Thursday, spurred by rallies on Wall Street and figures showing US home sales rising for a third consecutive month in June, offering further signs that the economy of the world's largest energy consumer may be on the mend.

A revived housing market is considered key to the US economy's recovery from a steep recession, and consequently to a rise in oil demand.

The data helped fuel a rally on Wall Street, pushing the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average more than two percent higher and above the 9,000-point threshold for the first time since January.

"Going forward, the market will definitely be looking at macroeconomic data.... I think the direction from here is up," Westmore said.