Oil flat amid stronger dollar, recovery hope

08:02, December 18, 2009      

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Oil prices settled basically flat on Thursday as investors weighed between a stronger dollar and mixed economic data.

Crude futures were pressured as dollar rallied to a three-month high against euro, limiting the appeal of commodities as hedge against inflation.

Weak labor market data also weighed on the oil market. The U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday that the number of new jobless claims rose to 480,000 last week, up 7,000 from the previous week, while analysts were expecting a moderate drop.

But the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators, which assesses economic activities in future three to six months, jumped 0.9 percent in November. And government data released on Wednesday showed larger-than-expected drops in crude and distillate inventories, which offered oil support.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery fluctuated between 71.37 U.S. dollars and 73.13 dollars on Thursday before settling at 72.65 dollars a barrel, one cent down from the previous session, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent crude for February delivery fell 92 cents to settle at 73.37 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

Source: Xinhua
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