Oil prices drop amid profit-taking

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices retreated on Tuesday as traders took profits from recent rally.

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery dropped 1.49 U.S. dollars, or 1.8 percent, to settle at 80.13 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for March delivery lost 2.06 dollars, or 2.3 percent, to close at 86.13 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

"Oil markets are losing ground as traders take profits near multi-week highs," Vladimir Zernov, analyst with market information supplier FX Empire, said on Tuesday.

Oil prices have scored solid gains recently, which saw Brent settle at the highest since late November on Monday, boosted by expectations of higher demand in China.

Traders also awaited data on U.S. fuel stockpiles as the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly petroleum status report on Wednesday. Analysts polled by S&P Global Commodity Insights expect U.S. crude supplies to show a fall of 2.4 million barrels.

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