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Oil Futures Snap 9-day Winning Streak, Settle Sharply Lower

Crude oil futures ended notably lower on Friday, snapping a nine-day winning streak, with profit taking and worries about slowing Chinese economy weighing on the commodity.

Crude oil futures ended down $1.00, or 1.9%, at $51.59 a barrel. On Thursday, crude oil futures ended $0.23, or 0.4%, at $52.59 a barrel, after having surged up 5.2% a session earlier.

For the week, oil futures gained about 7.6%.

Crude oil prices rallied sharply over the last nine sessions on news about production cuts by OPEC and some non-OPEC members and amid optimism about the U.S. and China striking a trade deal before the expiry of a 90-day truce agreed upon in early December by the Presidents of the U.S. and China. Data showing declines in crude stockpiles in the past couple of weeks contributed as well to oil's rise in recent sessions.

Before that, for much of the last quarter of 2018, crude oil prices were sliding down, losing over 40% from the highs attained in early October.

The three-day trade negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials at Beijing concluded on Wednesday, with no significant breakthroughs. However, hopes remain that the two nations will continue to strive for a trade agreement before a March 1 deadline.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office said in a statement after the three-day talks that officials from U.S. and China discussed "ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations". China's ministry of commerce said that the negotiations were "extensive, deep and meticulous" without offering specifics.

Data released by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell by 1.7 million barrels in the week to January 4, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 2.8 million barrel.

A report released by Baker Hughes today said U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for a second week in a row as more producers, like Occidental Petroleum Corp, turned conservative in their 2019 drilling plans due to uncertainty over a recovery in crude prices.

The oil rig count dropped by four in the week to January 11, to 873. The U.S. rig count is still much higher than a year ago when 752 rigs were active.

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