Oil prices slipped to near $74 a barrel on Tuesday in Asia as traders looked to a key U.S. central bank meeting later in the day for possible new policies to help boost economic growth. Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 53 cents to $74.33 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.20 to settle at $74.86 on Monday.
The Federal Reserve Board meets on Tuesday and investors are watching closely for clues about the central bank's interest rate policy. Some investors are speculating that the Fed's rate-setting committee could relaunch programs to buy Treasurys and mortgage bonds in an effort to stimulate the economy.
Oil prices have bobbed around the $75 a barrel level since the beginning of summer. Some analysts expect high crude inventories to weigh on prices even if the economy grows more than expected over the next year.
"An unusually bearish fundamental oil landscape will make it more difficult for petroleum to share in additional sprees of economic optimism," Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "We view this market as moving in waves that have left futures little changed from price levels that existed some four months ago."
In other Nymex trading in October contracts, heating oil was steady at $2.139 a gallon and gasoline fell 0.21 cent to $1.948 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.2 cents to $3.834 per 1,000 cubic feet. In London, Brent crude fell 5 cents to $79.27 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.