NEW YORK - Oil prices fell to around $76 a barrel Tuesday with new data showing a slow U.S. economic recovery and consumer confidence that remains lukewarm at best.
The dollar also gained against other major currencies, which can keep energy prices in check.
Benchmark crude for January delivery fell $1.54 to settle at $76.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The Commerce Department said the economy grew at a rate of 2.8 percent between July and September, short of estimates for 3.5 percent growth released just a month ago. Consumers are not spending much, commercial construction was weak, businesses trimmed inventories.
The lack of consumer spending was partly explained in another report released Tuesday.
Americans' confidence in the economy improved slightly in November from October, but shoppers remain gloomy heading into the holiday shopping season, according to the monthly survey released by the Conference Board.
The lack of industrial and consumer activity has played out in weekly oil inventory reports from the Energy Department, with supplies of crude in storage growing.
The next weekly report arrives Wednesday, and expectations are that crude and gasoline supplies grew again last week.
U.S. retail prices edged lower again, falling less than a penny to $2.638 per gallon Tuesday. That's a lot more than last year at this time, when gasoline prices plunged to about $1.91 as the economic crisis unfolded.
Still, gasoline prices are being supported by crude, which has traded between $76 and $82 for more than a month.