Crude oil turned lower on Tuesday after earlier challenging the $50 a barrel mark. More disappointing economic data has raised further concerns over struggling energy demand.
Light sweet crude for May delivery fell to $48.07, down 34 cents on the session. After hitting as high as $49.94, oil has reached as low as $47.96.
On the economic front, a report showed that the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index for January fell 19.0 percent compared to the same month a year ago, reflecting an acceleration from the 18.6 percent year-over-year decline reported for December.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Gary Stern said resolving the issue of too-big-to-fail should be among policymakers' highest priorities. Speaking at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., Stern discussed the roots of the current problem and urged action to mitigate the devastating effects of the failure of a systemically important institution.
Oil lost nearly $6 in the last two sessions as investors bet a recent rally was overdone. Light sweet crude fell $1.96 on Friday. Prices touched as low as $51.64 after challenging $55 in recent days. In its first week as the front month contract, May crude closed up 31 cents.
Traders also looked forward to the release of the Energy Information Administration's inventory data on Wednesday. Last week's report showed crude oil inventories increased 3.3 million barrels in the week ended March 20. Analysts were expecting a rise of about 1.2 million barrels. The build is the 22nd in 26 weeks.
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