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Oil falls to near $85 ahead of corporate earnings
Oil falls to near $85 in Asia ahead of reports on quarterly corporate earnings
By The Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) ' Oil fell to near $85 a barrel Wednesday in Asia ahead of a stream of corporate earnings reports that could shape views on the strength of the U.S. economy and likely demand for crude.

Benchmark crude for November delivery was down 35 cents at $85.46 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 40 cents to settle at $85.81 in New York on Tuesday.

Brent crude was up 37 cents at $111.10 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.

Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, reported third-quarter net income that fell far short of analyst forecasts. The company said demand from Europe dropped sharply in the July-September period, which helped pull down the price of aluminum.

Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report third-quarter results. Later this week, food and beverage producer PepsiCo Inc., investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co., and tech giant Google Inc. are also scheduled to announce earnings.

Investors will be closely watching to what extent a slowing global economy may have undermined corporate profits and what companies forecast for coming quarters. Analysts expect earnings from S&P 500 companies to rise about 12 percent from the same period last year, according to data provider FactSet.

Oil prices fell from $90 last month to $75 last week amid investor concern Europe's debt crisis could spread and hurt global economic growth. Crude bounced back to $85 this week and has hovered near there for the last couple days as traders await more details about a plan led by Germany and France to capitalize the region's banks.

"From a longer term perspective, we still see a choppy, wide swinging trade that still includes the possibility of a retest of last week's lows," energy consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 0.1 cent to $2.91 per gallon and gasoline futures dropped 0.3 cents to $2.75 per gallon. Natural gas slid 1.1 cents to $3.61 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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