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Crude Oil Futures Settle Slightly Higher

Crude oil prices settled slightly higher on Friday, despite concerns about possible drop in energy demand in the near term due to global economic slowdown.

Traders were weighing possible drop in demand for crude and recent data showing higher crude output in the U.S.

The OPEC-driven production cuts and the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry contributed to crude's marginal rise in the session.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for March ended up $0.08, or 0.2%, at $52.72 a barrel.

On Thursday, crude oil futures ended down $1.37, or 2.5%, at $52.64 a barrel, the lowest settlement in more than a week.

Crude oil futures shed as much as 4.6% in the week.

Data released by Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed that crude inventories increased by 1.26 million barrels last week. The increase, however, was less than what economists had expected.

Meanwhile, average weekly U.S. crude oil production remained at the record 11.9 million barrels per day it reached in late 2018.

Meanwhile, a report from Baker Hughes, released this afternoon, said U.S. oil rigs count rose by 7 to 854 this week. Last week, the rig count saw a decline of 15.

Downward revision in growth forecasts for the Euro area by the European Commission and the Bank of England and rising worries about U.S.-China trade tensions have raised fears about energy demand.

Worries about trade tensions have increased following a report from Wall Street Journal, the U.S. and China don't even have a draft accord that specifies where they agree and disagree.

Earlier, reports said that U.S. President Donald Trump will not meet with the Chinese President Xi Jinping before a crucial March deadline. Trump is quoted as saying, "Not yet. Maybe. Probably too soon," before finally said, "No" when asked if the two leaders would meet before the deadline.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other U.S. officials are scheduled to travel to Beijing next week to continue the negotiations. However, markets are still skeptical about the outcome as no significant progress has been made so far on the issue.

On Thursday, the European Commission slashed its GDP growth forecast for Eurozone for 2019 to 1.3% from 1.9% and lowered its estimate for growth in 2020 to 1.6% from 1.7%. The Bank of England too lowered its growth forecast for the Euro area.

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