UPDATE 8-Oil ends flat in thin trade, Brent/WTI spread narrows

Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:59pm EDT
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* Brent off last week's high by more than $5

* Positive economic data lifts U.S. equities

* Coming up: EIA inventory report on Wed

By Jeanine Prezioso

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - Crude oil prices ended near flat in a sluggish day of trading on Tuesday as stronger equity markets put a floor under prices and Brent's premium over U.S. crude slid below $6.

Some trading was attributed to squaring positions as traders bought contracts to cover short bets made the previous session, when prices dropped to a three-week low, said Gene McGillian, analyst with Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Oil prices bounced slightly off a three-day rout last week that followed news that the U.S. Federal Reserve would scale back its quantitative easing program. The Fed news boosted the dollar, making commodities priced in the greenback more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Equity markets were higher after strong economic data on U.S. durable goods orders and prices for existing single-family homes.

But the data did little to guide a rally in the oil market and acted more as a "double-edged sword", McGillian said.   Continued...