Oil prices fell below $69 a barrel on Tuesday as economic concerns sent investors into safer havens, outweighing positive U.S. manufacturing and home sales data.

U.S. crude for October delivery fell $1.39 to $68.57 a barrel by 1:32 p.m. EDT.

London Brent crude dropped $1.38 to $68.27.

U.S. stocks dropped as investors' confidence in the economic recovery wavered. <.N>

The dollar is strengthening and equities are coming off hard so (oil futures) did the same, said Tom Knight, trader at Truman Arnold in Texarkana, Texas.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar rose as the slide in the U.S. stocks boosted the currency's safe-haven appeal.

Oil futures had risen earlier in the day as the market focused on a report showing a jump in U.S. manufacturing and pending home sales.

It looks like the whole complex is failing to sustain the gains ... basically, the market's not done yet on the downside, said Tom Bentz, senior commodity analyst, BNP Paribas Commodity Futures Inc in New York.

Oil has risen from a low of $32.40 in December, helped by economic recovery optimism that lifted global stocks <.MIWD00000PUS> to 10-month highs last month.


Oil traders will look for fresh direction from U.S. weekly crude stockpiles data.

Analysts expect the data to show a 600,000-barrel fall in U.S. crude stocks following an increase in refinery utilization, a preliminary Reuters poll of analysts showed.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) will release its weekly inventory report at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release its data on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Adding to already high inventories, OPEC has reduced its compliance with agreed production curbs, a Reuters survey on Tuesday found.

OPEC supply in August rose for a fourth consecutive month as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela increased their production, taking overall output discipline to 68 percent from a revised 70 percent in July.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets on September 9 in Vienna to reconsider its output policy.

(Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson and Catherine Bosley in London, Jennifer Tan in Singapore; Editing by John Picinich)