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Oil eases in Asian trade

SINGAPORE, Oct 19 – Oil prices eased in Asian trade Monday as the US dollar recovered against the major currencies, analysts said.

New York\’s main contract, light sweet crude for November delivery, fell 12 cents to 78.41 dollars a barrel after closing at 78.53 dollars Friday, the highest level since October 2008.

Brent North Sea crude for December delivery shed 14 cents to 76.85 dollars.

The US dollar\’s rebound against the euro and other major units was the main factor behind the fall in crude prices, analysts said.

Oil markets were "pretty much impacted by the currency," said Mark Pervan, a senior commodities strategist for ANZ Bank in Melbourne, Australia.

A stronger dollar tends to discourage investors holding weaker foreign currencies from buying crude which is priced in the greenback.

Crude prices had surged in recent sessions, fuelled partly by a slumping dollar which boosted investor appetite for hard assets such as oil and other commodities as they sought to protect their wealth from the falling US unit.

In Asian trade Monday, the dollar was at 90.98 yen compared with 90.87 yen in late US trade Friday. The euro changed hands at 1.4856 dollars, down from 1.4903 Friday.

Pervan said markets would be watching economic data due out this week such as the third-quarter economic data from China as well as US housing numbers for September, noting that the data could "surprise on the upside."

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Oil prices tumbled from historic highs of more than 147 dollars in July 2008 to about 32 dollars in December because of the global recession but have since risen on recovery hopes.

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