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Crude Oil Ends Sharply Higher, Sheds 0.3% For Week

U.S. crude oil futures snapped a two-day losing streak to close higher Friday, on a weak dollar and some mixed economic data amid concerns of inflation. Crude prices for the week declined 0.3 percent.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for April delivery, gained $1.95 or 1.9 percent to close at $107.061 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday.

Crude prices scaled a high of $107.24 a barrel intraday and a low of $105.13.

Yesterday, crude prices ended lower although rallied to make up for most of the losses after a White House spokesman denied any moves for a joint strategic oil reserve release by the U.S. and U.K.

The dollar pared gains made this morning against the euro trading near a monthly high, while ticking lower against the sterling.

The euro is trading higher against the dollar at $1.3174 on Friday, as compared to $1.3097 late Thursday. The euro had scaled a high of $1.3187 intraday with a low of $1.3050.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 79.776 on Friday, down from 80.255 late Thursday. The dollar scaled a high of 80.42 intraday, with a low of 79.69.

In economic news, U.S. consumer sentiment index dropped to 74.3 in March from 75.3 in February, according to a report from Reuters and the University of Michigan on Friday. Economists expected the index to increase to 76.0.

The drop reflects a deterioration in the outlook for economic conditions, with the consumer expectations index falling to 68.0 in March from 70.3 in February.

Nevertheless, the current economic conditions index climbed to 84.2 in March from 83.0 in the previous month. The report also indicates one-year inflation expectations jumped to 4.0 percent, while five-year inflation expectations edged up to 3.0 percent.

A Labor Department report on Friday showed a moderate increase in U.S. consumer prices in February. The consumer price index rose by 0.4 percent in February following a 0.2 percent increase in January. Economists expected the index to increase by about 0.5 percent. The increase in consumer prices was largely due to a 3.2 percent jump in energy prices, which came after a 0.2 percent increase in the previous month.

In economic news from Europe, eurozone merchandise trade balance slipped to a deficit in January. The trade balance was a deficit of euro 7.6 billion in January, compared to a surplus of euro 9.1 billion in December, which was revised down from euro 9.7 billion. Economists expected a deficit of euro 3 billion in January.

by RTT Staff Writer

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