Oil prices hovered below $82 a barrel Tuesday in Asia, losing momentum after a month-long run-up fuelled by growing investor optimism about global economic growth.
Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 40 cents to $81.47 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 37 cents to settle at $81.87 on Monday.
Crude has risen from $69.59 a barrel on Feb. 5, or about 18 percent, amid signs the U.S. economy is emerging from last year’s recession. Investors are still waiting for evidence that oil demand is recovering and will be eyeing weekly inventory data later this week.
The American Petroleum Institute releases its supply report late Tuesday while the Energy Information Agency’s data is due Wednesday.
Oil prices have been “buoyed by continued positive macroeconomic data flow and a gradual tightening of oil market balances,” Barclays Capital said in a report. “The dominant range is moving upward, and a rough $70 to $80 range will ultimately transition to a $80 to $90 range.”
In other Nymex trading in April contracts, heating oil fell 0.53 cent to $2.10 a gallon, and gasoline dropped 1.74 cents to $2.2718 a gallon. Natural gas was up 3.1 cents at $4.558 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude was down 42 cents at $80.05 on the ICE futures exchange.