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Oil has up-and-down day; falls as growth worries outweigh positive news

U.S. benchmark oil fell 44 cents to $91.49 per barrel Tuesday in New York.

The Associated Press


The price of oil fell slightly as optimism generated by reports on U.S. consumer confidence and housing prices faded in the afternoon.

U.S. benchmark oil fell 44 cents to $91.49 per barrel Tuesday in New York.

Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 32 cents to $110.13 per barrel in London.

The Confidence Board's latest survey showed consumer confidence was at the highest level since February. That's significant because consumer spending drives about 70 percent of economic activity.

Separately, the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index showed national home prices rose 1.2 percent in July from July 2011.

Oil rose as high as $93.20 in the morning. But sentiment gave way to the doubts about global and U.S. economic growth — and oil demand — that have hung over the market for the past week. The price of oil dropped in five of the past six trading sessions.

"I don't think that these two reports really suggest that we've seen, you know, any kind of like significant turnaround," said Gene McGillian, a broker and oil analyst at Tradition Energy. "When I saw the consumer confidence level, I was kind of surprised...I'd like to know who these confident consumers are."

The U.S. economy is growing slowly. There also are concerns that Europe's debt crisis will continue to weigh on the global economy. China's export-driven economy has cooled off, largely due to Europe's problems.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

— Heating oil was unchanged at $3.10 per gallon.

— Wholesale gasoline increased 3 cents to $2.95 per gallon.

— Natural gas gained 5 cents to $2.88 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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