NEW YORK, Feb. 27 -- Crude prices dipped on Tuesday as worries over the European economy, triggered by Italy's inconclusive election, outweighed upbeat U.S. economic data.
There was no clear winning coalition in the Italian vote, and traders feared that the country might be unable to form a strong government and carry out effective reforms.
On the economic front, low mortgage rates and strong demand pushed U.S. home prices higher. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released on Tuesday showed that all three composites concluded the year of 2012 with strong gains.
The national composite price index posted an increase of 7.3 percent for 2012, while the 10-city and 20-city price indexes advanced 5.9 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.
U.S. consumer sentiment also rebounded in February after a decline in January. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index reached 69.6 in February, as against 58.4 in January. The index for present situation increased to 63.3 from 56.2, while the expectations index improved to 73.8 from 59.9.
The report showed that consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook this month, as those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.9 percent from 15.6 percent.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery lost 0.48 dollars, or 0. 52 percent, to settle at 92.63 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for April delivery fell sharply by 1.73 dollars, or 1.51 percent, to close at 112.71 dollars a barrel.