NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Crude oil prices rebounded Monday, settling above $81 a barrel as the dollar's momentum against the euro reversed.

The April delivery contract, which will expire at day's end, dipped below $79 earlier after the buck jumped to a 10-month high against the euro. However, after the euro bounced off its lows, the contract managed to add 57 cents, or 0.7%, to settle at $81.25 a barrel. The more heavily traded May contract also rose above the $81-a-barrel level, gaining 63 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $81.60 a barrel.

Earlier in the morning, Gene McGillian, analyst and broker at Tradition Energy, pointed to dollar strength and equity weakness as factors putting pressure on crude prices. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was moving higher, helped by continuing anxieties over Greece's sovereign debt and India's inflation. But the dollar index was last down by 0.2%, allowing crude oil -- and other dollar-priced commodities -- to recoup some of their earlier losses.

McGillian also said the lack of technical and fundamental support was priming weakness in oil as well.

"You have to remember, last week we made another test of $83, and the market couldn't break through," McGillian said. "People are talking about worries about the dollar, but I also think it might be the market had a technical failure, and there's book-squaring pressure because of the expiration."

Platts estimated earlier that China's apparent oil demand soared to a record 16.6% last month compared to year-ago levels, but McGillian added, "we're seeing Far Eastern demand isn't enough for fundamental support to push through $80."

Crude may find a catalyst Wednesday from the Energy Information Administration's latest weekly inventory snapshot. As the summer driving season heats up, market observers will focus their gaze intently on fuel figures like distillates and gasoline, along with refinery utilization rates, any one of which may lend support to a move higher.

After the close of trading on Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute will release its weekly industry inventory report. Analysts polled by Platts are projecting an additional 1.67 million barrels in crude oil supplies for the week ended March 19. Gasoline stockpiles are expected to decline by 1.88 million barrels. Distillates are also forecast to drop, by 1.25 million barrels.

Oil-related equities were broadly mixed, with the NYSE Arca Oil index down 0.1% and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index up 0.1%. Exxon Mobil ( XOM) lost 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $66.97. Chevron ( CVX) shed 52 cents, or 0.7%, to $74.46, and ConocoPhillips ( COP) dropped 27 cents, or 0.5%, to $52.10.

Oil and gas company Forest Oil ( FST) got a new $33 price target from Goldman Sachs. Its stock added 32 cents, or 1.2%, to $27.72.

Elsewhere, PetroChina ( PTR) and Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A) put together a $3.2 billion joint venture takeover of Australia's Arrow Energy. PetroChina and Shell finished the session lower, down 0.2% and 0.4%.

Shares of oilfield services company Schlumberger ( SLB) lost 83 cents, or 1.3%, to $63.49 after the company's chief executive said Schlumberger will have a hard time hitting Wall Street's profit expectations this year. The CEO blamed disappointing returns on rising natural gas drilling in North America, according to Reuters.

Elsewhere on the Nymex, the April natural gas contract lost 9 cents, or 2.2%, to settle at $4.08 per million British thermal units. Heating oil for May delivery gained a penny, or 0.4%, to settle at $2.10 a gallon, while May gasoline was largely flat, rising 0.08%, to settle at $2.26 a gallon.

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

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