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Warm Weather Cools Crude

Updated from 10:47 a.m. EST

Oil prices fell back under $59 per barrel Monday as traders again trained their sights on warm weather forecasts and lower energy demand.

Meteorlogix, a Minneapolis weather forecaster, expects warm temperatures this week to lower heating oil demand in the Northeast, Bloomberg reported. A drop in consumption would also boost supplies of distillates, which are currently about 11% above last year's levels.

Light sweet crude slipped $1.01 to $58.58 a barrel. Wholesale unleaded gasoline ended down 2 cents at $1.53 a gallon and heating oil lost 3 cents to $1.66 a gallon. Natural gas added 10 cents to $7.89 per million British thermal units.

Oil prices have been trading in a tight band of $57 to $61 a barrel for the past six weeks as traders alternatively focused on domestic supply levels, OPEC's move to trim production this month and forecasts for lower energy demand.

The latest report came out on Friday when the International Energy Agency released its monthly energy outlook in which it shaved its estimate for the third month in a row. Thanks to lower Chinese consumption, the Paris-based group now expects global demand growth to come in 80,000 barrels less this year than its prior estimate at 84.5 million barrels. The forecast for 2007 remains the same at a growth rate of 1.7%.
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