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Crude Firm Above $108

The price of crude oil was steady at its 9-month high Friday morning amid supply concerns and weak U.S. dollar.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for April delivery, were up $0.52 to $108.35 a barrel. Yesterday oil extended gains for a third session mostly on supply concerns and a weak dollar, notwithstanding a larger-than-expected increase in U.S. oil inventories.

Thursday during trading hours, the EIA revealed that U.S. crude oil inventories increased by 1.60 million barrels, while gasoline stocks were down by 600,000 barrels in the weekended February 17. Analysts were expecting crude oil inventories to jump 1.35 million barrels and gasoline stocks to add 250,000 barrels last week.

This morning, the U.S. dollar was lingering around a 2-month low versus the euro and extending losses for a second session against sterling. The buck was extending its 3-month low against the Swiss franc, while extending its its 7-month high versus the yen.

In economic news from the euro zone, the German economy contacted 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter, according to an updated estimate from the Federal Statistical Office. The year-on-year growth rate of 1.5 percent was also confirmed by the report. The 2011 growth rate of 3 percent was unchanged from the preliminary estimate.

Elsewhere, the U.K. economy contracted in the fourth quarter for the first time in a year, in line with previous estimate, second estimate released by the Office for National Statistics showed. Gross domestic product dropped 0.2 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, as initially estimated. Meanwhile, the third quarter growth was revised down to 0.5 percent from 0.6 percent.

Traders will look to the Reuters and the University of Michigan's final report on the consumer sentiment index for February, due out at 9:55 a.m. ET. The consumer sentiment index is expected to be upwardly revised to 73 from the mid-month reading of 72.5.

A little later, the Commerce Department is due to release its new home sales report for January. The consensus estimate calls for new homes sales of 315,000 following a reading of 307,000 for December.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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