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Oil Drops on U.S. Home Sales Data

The price of oil dropped after the government said sales of new homes in the U.S. cooled in December compared with a month earlier.

Benchmark oil fell 14 cents to $95.81 a barrel in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was up slightly before the release of the housing data.

The Commerce Department said new-home sales fell 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That's down from November's rate, which was the fastest in two-and-a-half years. Still, sales for the entire year were the best since 2009.

Oil prices are still supported by investors' confident mood, reflected by rising indexes in global stock markets and gains by the euro against the dollar.

A weaker dollar makes crude cheaper -- and a more attractive investment -- for traders using other currencies. On Friday, the euro was up at $1.3463 from $1.3378 late Thursday in New York.

In the U.S., the average price at the gas pump rose a penny to $3.33 a gallon, up 4 cents from a week ago.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was down 5 cents at $113.23 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.88 per gallon.
  • Natural gas fell 1 cent to $3.45 per 1,000 cubic feet.
  • Heating oil fell 2 cents to $3.06 a gallon.

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