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Oil Sheds 1% as Demand Fears Weigh

Crude oil for October delivery on the Nymex lost 72 cents to settle at $73.10 a barrel.
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) -- Oil futures lost ground Monday, settling just above the $73-a-barrel mark as demand concerns continued to weigh.

The crude oil October delivery contract on the Nymex shed 72 cents, or 1%, to settle at $73.10. The contract fell as low as $72.75 a barrel during the session.

"It's expiration of the sentiment that swung firmly towards the side of skepticism about any potential recovery," said Mike Fitzpatrick, analyst at MF Global. "Unless we get some kind of data that market participants can take some solace from as far as showing at least a stabilizing economy, I think the downdraft will continue."


stocks got a lift on a fresh surge in M&A activity, exuberance from the

deal news waned against the less encouraging economic landscape that's emerged of late.

Stocks ended last week on a down note after a gauge showed

deteriorating manufacturing conditions in the eastern U.S. and weekly

new jobless claims breached the psychologically significant 500,000 barrier.

Stephen Schork, president of the energy consultant firm The Schork Group, also noted the "horrendous" macroeconomic headlines, while adding he's watching the link between commodities on the one hand and stock levels and dollar swings on the other. The dollar moved higher against the euro on Monday, putting additional pressure on crude, and the broader dollar index strengthened 0.2%.

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"The bottom line is we are in a very severe short-term correction lower. I've been saying for a couple weeks that the $70 range is certainly good support and I expect to see support hold there. That said, we're really stretching the rubber band now below that $75," Schork said. "At this point, as goes the dollar, so goes crude oil in the other direction. We're really now on the cusp, the bulls are failing the defense here, and we certainly risk a trek below $70 a barrel now."

Oil-related stocks slipped along with the broader market. The NYSE Arca Oil index fell 0.2%, and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index declined by 0.1%. Shares of

Dow Jones Industrial Average



(CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report


Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report

, however, each made gains. Chevron gained 0.01% to $75.06 and Exxon added 1% at $59.50.

Elsewhere on the Nymex, September natural gas lost 5 cents, or 1.2%, to settle at $4.07 per million British thermal units. The most actively traded October heating oil contract shed nearly 2 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $1.98 a gallon, while gasoline for October delivery gave up 3 cents, or 1.5%, to settle at $1.84 a gallon.

--Written by Sung Moss and Melinda Peer in New York