Oil falls by $3

Crude prices sink below $68 after report says confidence fell to lowest since March, sparking demand worries.

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LONDON (Reuters) -- Oil fell below $68 a barrel on Friday after a report showing weak consumer confidence undermined expectations of a rise in demand and tanked stocks on Wall Street.

U.S. crude oil futures fell $3.01 to settle at $67.51 a barrel Friday.

U.S. consumer confidence in early August dropped to the lowest level since March, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, weakening the economic outlook and dragging down Wall Street.

"Crude futures are down, following a slide in the stock market and after the Reuters/University of Michigan survey showed consumer confidence down earlier this month," said Tom Pawlicki, analyst at MF Global Research in Chicago.

Earlier in the day, oil had climbed with support from data Thursday that showed Germany and France had posted second quarter growth, ending their recessions in April-June, which was earlier than expected.

Oil prices have more than doubled from below $33 in December. Most of the support for the commodity so far has come from hopes for a recovery from the economic downturn, rather than fundamentals of demand and supply.

Some of the market's attention has also been on the weather in the Atlantic Ocean, which could soon see its first named storm of the hurricane season.

Tropical storms and hurricanes can disrupt operations at offshore platforms and coastal refineries but many forecasts are for a mild hurricane season this year. To top of page

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