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Oil Futures Settle Sharply Lower On Growth Concerns

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday as weak economic data raised worries about global growth and triggered concerns about a likely drop in fuel demand.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended down $0.94, or 1.6%, at $59.04 a barrel.

On Thursday, crude oil futures for May ended down $0.25, or 0.4%, at $59.98 a barrel.

For the week, crude oil futures gained about 0.4%.

Data released today showed contraction in eurozone service sector activity. France's service sector growth slowed to the lowest level in 2 months and Germany's private sector growth dropped to the slowest pace in six years.

Weak U.S. factory data, the recent comments about interest rate outlook and the U.S. economy by the Federal Reserve, Brexit uncertainty and conflicting reports about U.S.-China trade negotiaitons all weighed on crude oil prices.

Although the OPEC-led output cuts, Saudi Arabia's decision to extend production cut and the U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela keep supporting oil prices at times, worries about global economic slowdown seem to put a brake on oil prices at regular intervals.

On the U.S.-China trade front, worries continue to linger after U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that he would likely keep tariffs on Chinese goods for a "substantial period" until he is sure Beijing is complying with any trade agreement.

According to reports, the U.S. and China are set to resume talks next week following conflicting reports over the progress of negotiations in recent days.

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