NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices fell Friday, as a preliminary consumer sentiment report came in worse than expected, overshadowing a rosy government retail sales report and a weaker dollar.
What prices are doing: Crude for April delivery dropped 87 cents to $81.24 a barrel after climbing above $83 earlier in the day.
What's moving the market: Positive retail sales and a weaker dollar weren't enough to keep oil prices above the $83 threshold for long.
The Commerce Department on Friday said that total retail sales edged up 0.3% in February, renewing optimism about the economy. Oil prices jumped to an intraday high of $83.16 a barrel.
The dollar index (DXY), which measures the greenback against a basket of other currencies, was down 0.64% to 79.81, also helped support oil. Because oil is priced in dollars, a weaker dollar makes it cheaper for foreigners to buy the commodity.
But a less than cheery preliminary reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index helped send oil prices down by as much as $1.54. The index slipped to 72.5 in March, from 73.6 in February, well below analyst estimates of 74.0, according to a survey by Briefing.com.
What analysts are saying: "Consumer sentiment sucked the life out of the market today," said Gianna Bern, president of Brookshire Advisory and Research, Inc., a Chicago-based investment research firm.
"Crude has gotten ahead of itself in the last couple weeks," said Bern. "An $81 a barrel [price] is very generous considering global demand is still fairly low." She added that crude inventories are still above their 5-year averages.
Still, higher demand forecasts this week from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency in Paris, as well as a better than expected jobless report, point toward improving economic conditions.
Analysts say the oil rally should continue, barring any surprising economic news with prices piercing a ceiling of about $85 a barrel as early as May.
Looking ahead, traders are keeping an eye on OPEC's semi-annual conference on March 17, where analysts expect oil quotas to remain unchanged. April crude contracts expire on March 22.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||4.38%||4.39%|
|15 yr fixed||3.81%||3.82%|
|30 yr refi||4.39%||4.39%|
|15 yr refi||3.80%||3.81%|
Today's featured rates:
John Schnatter is Papa John. He's tied to Papa John's advertising as cheese is to pizza, but he resigned as chairman for using a racial slur. More
The European Union and Japan signed a huge free trade deal on Tuesday that covers 600 million people. More
Walmart will boost its use of Microsoft's cloud services and work with the tech firm on artificial intelligence and machine learning projects. The common enemy is Amazon. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
Free food and ping pong tables are fun office perks, but do they actually help with employee retention? More