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Crude Oil Futures Settle Higher

Crude oil futures ended higher on Friday with escalating unrest in Libya, the U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and OPEC-led output cuts tightening crude supply in the global market.

Data showing showing a notable jump in exports eased concerns about energy demand from the world's second largest economy.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended up $0.31, or 0.5%, at $63.89 a barrel, after rising to a high of $64.65 a barrel intraday.

On Thursday, crude oil futures for May ended down $1.03, or 1.6%, at $63.58 a barrel. Crude oil futures gained about 1.5% in the week.

According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency, Venezuela's average daily production rate fell to 870,000 barrels per day and OPEC-wide production fell by 550,000 barrels per day in March.

Crude production in Saudi Arabia fell as well, dropping to the lowest level in two years, after the kingdom slashed its production by more than the promised cut.

According to reports, Libya's oil production is likely to be severely impacted due to renewed fighting between warring armed groups. The situation could become as bad as it was during the 2011 civil war, the National Oil Corporation's chairman, Mustafa Sanalla, is reported to have told the Financial Times.

"I am afraid the situation could be much worse than 2011 because of the size of forces now involved," Sanalla told the FT, adding "Unless the problem is solved very quickly, I am afraid this will affect our operations, and soon we will not be able to produce oil or gas."

Data released by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed crude supplies in the U.S. increased by 7 million barrels last week, significantly larger than the expected rise.

The report said U.S. crude stockpiles rose to their highest level since November 2017, amid rising imports.

A report released by Baker Hughes this afternoon showed the active rig count in the U.S. dropped by 3 to 1,022 this week.

The Chinese trade data released today proved to be a mixed bag, with exports rebounding to a five-month high while imports fell more than expected.

The data showed that China's exports rose 14.2% in March from a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations and marking the strongest growth in five months.

Imports dropped an annual 7.6%, worse than analysts' forecasts for a 1.3% fall and widening from February's 5.2% fall.

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