Oil prices stay below US$75 a barrel in Asia amid falls in stock markets

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Oil prices stayed below US$75 a barrel in Asia on Monday, dampened by falls in regional stock markets and on Wall Street over President Barack Obama's plans to restrict big banks.
Benchmark crude for March delivery dipped 2 cents to $74.52 a barrel at midday Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.54 to settle at $74.54 on Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell for third straight day on Friday, losing 4.1 per cent over the week. It was the worst showing for the market since it began its recovery last March, partly due to disappointing earnings results and Obama's plan for tighter regulations.
Most Asian stock markets also were down Monday.
"The plan has caused both equities and commodities to consolidate considerably last week. Details of the plan aren't available but as more news come out, we can expect a lot of volatility in oil pricing," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with consultancy Purvin&Gertz in Singapore.
He said the correction was not unusual and some traders may view the lower prices as a buy opportunity.
More earning reports expected this week including from Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and Procter&Gamble Co will provide indications of economic activities and a new direction for oil pricing, he added.
Obama spooked the market last week by asking Congress for curbs on the size of banks and an end to some of the risky trading large financial companies have used in recent quarters to boost their profits. Obama's push for tighter regulations comes at the same time China is moving to cool its economy by reining in lending and stepping up regulatory oversight of that country's banks.
So far, U.S. earnings reports have been mixed, and upbeat earnings Friday from General Electric Co. and McDonald's Corp. weren't enough to sway investors.
In other Nymex trading in March contracts, heating oil rose 0.48 cents to $1.9464 a gallon. For February contracts, gasoline added 0.5 cents to $1.9707 a gallon while natural gas futures gained 1 cent to $5.829 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude for March delivery rose 9 cents to $72.92 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Organizations: New York Mercantile Exchange, NYSE, Dow Jones industrial average Microsoft Corp. Apple Inc. Procter&Gamble Co General Electric McDonald's Corp. Nymex BP

Geographic location: Asia, KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Singapore China U.S. London

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