- Crude prices fell on Tuesday after a soft consumer-confidence barometer painted a picture of a sluggish U.S. economy that will demand less fuel and energy, while weather forecasts for a warming trend sent prices dipping as well.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April traded at $101.91 a barrel during U.S. trading, down 0.89%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $101.03 a barrel and a high of $102.87 a barrel.

The April contract settled up 0.61% at $102.82 a barrel on Monday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $99.41 a barrel, the low from Feb. 14, and resistance at $103.45 a barrel, Monday''s high.

Oil prices slid after the Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index slipped to 78.1 in February from 79.4 in January, mainly due to concerns over general business conditions, jobs, and earnings.

Analysts were expecting the index to tick up to 80.0.

The present situation index rose to its highest level in almost six years, but the expectations index declined, indicating that while consumers believe the economy has improved they do not foresee further considerable improvement in the coming months.

Giving oil some support were expectations the Federal Reserve will very gradually taper its $65 billion monthly bond-buying program, which weakens the dollar by suppressing long-term borrowing costs to spur recovery.

A weaker greenback makes oil an attractive commodity on dollar-denominated exchanges.

Also cushioning losses, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller house price index rose 13.4% in December from a year earlier, the best December reading in eight years and slightly ahead of forecasts for a 13.3% gain.

Elsewhere, forecasts for warmer weather across the eastern U.S. in early March edged prices lower.

A powerful blast of cold air will shoot across the northern U.S. states this week, through in the first and second week of March, warmer temperatures may return.

Temperatures could even climb higher than once expected around March 7, according to updated weather-forecasting models, which could cut into demand for heating oil.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for April delivery were down 0.97% and trading at US$109.57 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$7.66 a barrel.

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