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Crude Ends Higher As Dollar Weakens; Gains 1% For Week

U.S. crude oil futures snapped a two-day losing streak to settle higher Friday, as investors weighed some encouraging economic data from Europe with the dollar slipping against a basket of major currencies. There were renewed hopes of demand growth after an uptrend in European stocks on some positive economic data from the U.K. and Germany, and some good earnings at the U.S. equity markets.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, gained $1.23 or 0.8 percent to close at $103.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday.

Crude prices scaled a high of $104.27 a barrel intraday and a low of $102.45. Oil prices gained about 0.95 percent for the week.

Yesterday, crude settled lower on a weak dollar after some soft economic data from the U.S. once again set off worries about the economy and speculations that France may be downgraded.

Earlier in the week, an EIA report showed that US crude oil inventories jumped 3.90 million barrels, compared to an expected addition of 400,000 barrels last week.

Stocks in the U.S. have moved mostly higher over the course of the day. Much of the strength on Wall Street was attributed to upbeat earnings news from some big names such as Microsoft (MSFT), General Electric (GE), and McDonald's (MCD).

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 79.164 on Friday, down from 79.563 in North American trade late Thursday. The dollar scaled a high of 79.61 intraday, with a low of 79.13.

The euro was trading higher against the dollar at $1.3211 on Friday, as compared to $1.3137 late Thursday. The euro scaled a high of $1.3224 intraday with a low of $1.3129.

From Europe, business sentiment in Germany improved unexpectedly for April on rising optimism among manufacturers, shrugging off concerns about the debt crisis. Marking the sixth consecutive monthly rise, business confidence rose to a 9-month high of 109.9 in April from 109.8 in March, a survey by Munich-based Ifo institute showed Friday. Economists had forecast the indicator to fall to 109.5.

In U.K., retail sales logged a better-than-expected expansion in March, boosting hopes of good economic growth in the first quarter. Including automotive fuel, retail sales volume grew 1.8 percent month-on-month, recovering from February's 0.8 percent drop, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. The rate of growth topped the 0.5 percent rise forecast by economists and marked the biggest rise since January 2011.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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