) -- For a time Tuesday, oil had its moment when it briefly kissed the $75-a-barrel level, a psychologically rich barrier. But the moment was fleeting, and oil futures pulled back in a big way.

After hitting the high mark, benchmark crude for the front-month contract settled at $72.05 per barrel, losing $2.32, or just over 3%, Tuesday.

Reports abound suggesting a host of reasons for the retreat -- sell triggers prompting profit-taking, a momentum-gaining dollar and sobering deficit figures that offset better consumer confidence and home-price numbers, to name a few.

Whatever the case, the end result was a decline in oil futures prices on the same day that the October delivery contract fell more than $3 earlier in the session.

Later Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry-trade group, will report its fuel-inventory numbers from last week, while the Energy Department is set to release its inventory data figures Wednesday morning.

In equities action, the oil industry's most recognizable names had a mixed day. A cadre of overseas operators performed slightly better than the rest, as American depositary shares for


(BP) - Get Report

closed the session up 5 cents at $51.93.

Royal Dutch Shell


ADS's added 50 cents to close at $55.43.

Meanwhile, others found themselves mired in the red.


(COP) - Get Report

lost 28 cents, or 0.6%, to $45.03. Shares of

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

fell 62 cents, or 0.9%, to $70.68, while


(CVX) - Get Report

shares declined 11 cents to end the day at $70.65.

Also losing ground were


(HES) - Get Report


Marathon Oil

(MRO) - Get Report


Murphy Oil

(MUR) - Get Report

, which gave up 2.1%, 1.4% and 2.6% apiece.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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