NEW YORK, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices fell Monday as sales of new homes in the United States came in below forecasts in December.
U.S. sales of new single-family houses in December decreased 7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 414,000 compared with the prior month, said the Commerce Department Monday.
The worse-than-expected housing data ignited concern that crude demand may slow in the world's leading oil consumer.
Speculations that Federal Reserve will further curb stimulus at a policy meeting this week also weighed on the oil prices.
The Fed will start a two-day policy meeting beginning on Tuesday. It is widely expected that the Fed will continue to unwind its quantitative easing program following an initial reduction by 10 billion U.S. dollars at its December meeting.
The market expects that the Fed will reduce asset purchases by 10 billion dollars at each meeting to end the program this year, as U.S. economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace, and labor market conditions have shown further improvement.
The so-called tapering of the Fed's asset purchase would likely boost the U.S. dollar, making dollar-priced oil less attractive for countries using other currencies.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery moved down 92 cents to settle at 95.72 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for March delivery lost 1.19 dollars to close at 106.69 dollars a barrel.