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Oil falls below $107 on U.S. data; weak demand offsets Iran

Benchmark oil for April delivery fell $2.01, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $106.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Associated Press

2/28/2012

NEW YORK — Oil prices fell and settled below $107 a barrel Tuesday on disappointing U.S. economic data, as a weak demand picture offset fears of a potential supply disruption over Iran's nuclear program.

Benchmark oil for April delivery fell $2.01, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $106.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent fell $2.62, or 2.1 percent, to $121.55 a barrel in London.

Pulling the oil price lower was a report showing that home prices fell in December for a fourth straight month in most major U.S. cities. Also, orders for long-lasting manufactured goods plunged 4 percent last month, the most in three years. Economists expected a drop of just 1 percent.

Oil had risen to multimonths highs last week, as traders worried about geopolitical tensions related to Iran and its nuclear program.

Oil prices have jumped 8 percent so far this year.

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Petroleum demand in the U.S., the world's largest oil consumer, has fallen 5.5 percent in 2012, compared with a year ago. A weekly survey by MasterCard SpendingPulse shows that Americans have cut back on gasoline spending for the past 48 straight weeks. Last week, the Federal Highway Administration said that U.S. motorists drove 1.2 percent less in 2011.

Analysts say the national average could peak in late April as high as $4.25 per gallon ($1.12 a liter).

In other Nymex trading, heating oil fell by 6.26 cents to end the day at $3.2238 per gallon and gasoline futures fell by 8.82 cents to finish at $3.04.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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JB Hunt