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Oil near $86 as outlook for crude demand dims
Oil falls to near $86 in Asia as investors anticipate weak US economy, crude demand
By The Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) ' Oil prices extended sharp losses to near $86 a barrel Friday in Asia amid expectations a slowing global economy will weaken demand for crude.

Benchmark oil for September delivery was down 39 cents to $86.24 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude tumbled $5.30 to settle at $86.63 on Thursday.

In London, Brent crude was up 25 cents at $107.50 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Oil and other commodities were dragged down by a plunge in global stock markets as traders lost confidence in U.S. economic growth. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 4.3 percent Thursday and stock markets in Asia opened sharply lower Friday.

Investors fled to lower-risk assets, such as the U.S. dollar, which exacerbated oil's decline. Crude usually falls when the dollar gains since a stronger U.S. currency makes commodities more expensive for investors with other currencies.

All eyes will be on Friday's July jobs report for evidence about the strength of the U.S. economy. Economists expect that 90,000 jobs were created in the U.S. last month, which is not enough to lower the unemployment rate, currently at 9.2 percent.

"Economic worries in the U.S. led to fears that oil demand will soften dramatically," energy consultant Cameron Hanover said in a report. "If Friday's jobs number is surprisingly robust or bullish, we could see assets of every stripe rally."

Some analysts point to growing crude consumption and robust economic growth in emerging markets to suggest supply and demand fundamentals don't justify the drop in oil prices from $100 two weeks ago.

"Commodity market participants are running the risk of being fooled by the gloomy macroeconomic environment and overlooking the bigger picture of a market that remains fundamentally well supported," Barclays Capital said in a report.

The drop in crude ' oil is down from near $115 in May ' should also lower costs for products such as gasoline and help free up some consumer purchasing power.

In other Nymex trading in September contracts, heating oil rose 1.2 cents to $2.91 a gallon while gasoline gained 1.0 cent at $2.74 a gallon. Natural gas futures slid 0.3 cent at $3.94 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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