The price of oil hovered above $97 a barrel Monday as investors prepared for key U.S. economic reports and a Federal Reserve policy meeting this week.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down 40 cents at $97.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract gained 74 cents to $97.85 on Friday but closed out the week with a 2.9 percent loss, largely due to signs of oversupply and muted demand.
U.S. data releases this week include September industrial production, retail sales, inflation and consumer confidence as well as a Fed policy meeting that could reinforce expectations that the central bank won't begin reducing its mammoth monetary stimulus until well into next year.
The expansion of the U.S. money supply is aimed at supporting economic recovery and reducing high unemployment but has also been a boon for investors in stocks and commodities. The timing of the stimulus withdrawal has become a matter of intense speculation in markets.
The market will also be on the watch for data on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products. Figures for the week ending Oct. 25 are due for release late Tuesday and Wednesday.
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