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Crude Oil Futures Settle Notably Higher

Crude oil prices moved higher on Friday, lifted by optimism about a Covid-19 vaccine and a likely pick-up in energy demand once the vaccines get the nod from drug regulators.

Oil was also supported by expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and it allies will eventually agree to defer relaxing output curbs so as to balance the oil market.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for December settled at $42.15 a barrel, gaining $0.41 or about 1%, on the expiration day. New front-month contract January WTI futures closed up by $0.52 or 1.2% at $42.42 a barrel.

Brent crude futures were up by about $0.60 or 1.3% at $44.80 a barrel.

OPEC and its allies are scheduled to meet on November 30 and December 1 to consider options to delay tapering their output cuts by around 2 million barrels per day.

Higher crude output from Libya raised concerns about likely excess supply in the market and limited oil's uptick.

Oil prices were also getting some support from signs of movement on a stimulus deal in Washington. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly agreed to resume negotiations with Democrats over a potential new Covid-19 relief bill.

A report from Baker Hughes that said the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil fell by 5 to 231 this week, dropping for the first time in nine weeks, also supported oil prices.

The total active U.S. rig count, which includes those drilling for natural gas, was also down by 2 to 310, according to the report from Baker Hughes.

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