RTTNews - Crude oil finished a choppy session mildly higher on Monday after earlier challenging $69 per barrel. Oil received a spark from encouraging housing data that led to believe better days may be looming for energy demand.

Light sweet crude oil for August delivery rose to $68.38, up 33 cents on the session. Prices earlier touched as high as $68.99 before hitting as low as $67.60.

The Commerce Department reported new home sales rose 11% to 384,000 in June. Sales were expected to rise to 352,000 for the month compared to 342,000 in May.

Front-month crude has now finished higher in eight of nine sessions. Prices surged $7.49 last week amid hopes of an economic recovery.

Traders also looked ahead to the Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday. Last week's report showed crude oil inventories decreased by 1.8 million barrels in the week ended July 17. Experts were looking for a drop of about 2 million barrels. Gasoline inventories increased by 800,000 barrels.

More economic news will be in focus on Tuesday. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index is expected at 9 a.m. ET. The index is expected to drop 17.8% in the month of May, compared to a drop of 18.12% in April.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence report is due at 10 a.m. ET with a reading of 48.7 expected for July, compared to a 49.3 from the month of June.

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