Oil prices fall below $76 as traders eye equities

July 19, 2010 7:37:50 AM PDT
Oil prices fell to below $76 a barrel Monday in Asia as traders eyed falling global stock markets ahead of more key corporate earnings reports this week.

Benchmark crude for August delivery was down 30 cents to $75.71 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 61 cents to settle at $76.01 on Friday.

Oil prices fluttered in the mid-$70s last week as investors sought insight into the strength of the global economy from the start of second quarter company results in the U.S.

This week includes earnings reports from several big companies, including International Business Machines Corp. on Monday, followed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. the next day. Later in the week come reports from Coca-Cola Co., Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 2.5 percent Friday after disappointing data last week on U.S. retail sales, housing and manufacturing. Most Asian equities fell Monday. Oil traders often look to stock markets for guidance about overall investor sentiment.

"This market had a lot thrown at it, in terms of economic bad news," Cameron Hanover said in a report. "Based on the news out last week, prices should have dropped much more than they did."

In other Nymex trading in August contracts, heating oil fell 0.60 cent to $2.0053 a gallon, gasoline dropped 0.63 cent to $2.0423 a gallon and natural gas rose 1.7 cents to $4.536 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude was down 33 cents to $75.04 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.