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SINGAPORE, Aug 4, 2010 (AFP)
Oil prices fell in Asian trade on Wednesday but remained above 82 dollars as traders took profit on the heels of strong rallies in the crude markets, analysts said.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, was down 14 cents to 82.41 dollars a barrel after breaking past the 82-dollar mark late Tuesday.

The contract had earned more than five dollars, or seven percent, in the last four sessions.

Brent North Sea crude for September delivery shed eight cents to 82.60 dollars.

Investors were taking a break after oil prices breached 82 dollars late Tuesday, said Serene Lim, an oil and gas analyst with ANZ bank in Singapore.

“It could be dropping on profit-taking… I think investors might be taking a breather,” she said.

Oil prices were not depressed by a series of weak economic data released in the US Tuesday, which had adversely impacted equities markets.

US consumption expenditure last month fell by less than 0.1 percent compared with a similar percentage rise in May.

Consumer spending is a key driver of US economic growth, usually accounting for two-thirds of output.

US factory orders also slumped in June, declining for a second consecutive month, the Commerce Department said.

And a report by the National Association of Realtors showed the number of contracts signed to purchase existing US homes unexpectedly fell to its lowest level in nine years.

Nevertheless, Lim said oil prices would remain above 82 dollars in the short term due to the “strong momentum” of recent rallies, as well as the onset of the hurricane season, which would drive up energy demand.

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