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Oil Futures Settle Modestly Higher

Crude oil futures edged higher on Thursday and eked out marginal gains for the truncated week, with traders weighing near term crude supply and demand prospects and making cautious moves.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended up $0.24, or about 0.4%, at $64.00 a barrel.

On Wednesday, crude oil futures for May ended down $0.29, or 0.45%, at $63.76 a barrel.

Tighter supply due to U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, the drop in oil rigs count, the decline in U.S. crude stockpiles - the first in four weeks - and a report showing crude oil exports from Saudi Arabia declined by 277,000 barrels a day to below 7 million barrels per day in February, supported crude prices.

Another positive for crude was a report showing a fall in shipments from Saudi Arabia.

On the economic front, the latest batch of data out of the U.S. was buoyant. However, weak data from eurozone has raised concerns about energy demand.

Reports showed eurozone business activity barely grew in April. While Germany's economy is struggling to grow, France has stabilized somewhat after contracting in March.

The Energy Information Administration's data on Wednesday showed crude stockpiles dropped by 1.4 million barrels in the week ended April 12, slightly more than the expected fall.

A report from Baker Hughes showed today that oil rigs count in the U.S. dropped by 8 this week, bringing the total count down to 825.

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