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Oil Futures Settle Sharply Higher Again

Crude oil futures settled higher on Friday, extending gains from the previous session, as the commodity continued to benefit from data showing a bigger than expected drop in U.S. crude inventories last week.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August settled at $74.56, gaining $1.62 or about 2.2% in the session.

However, WTI crude futures posted a weekly loss, snapping a six-week winning streak.

Brent crude futures moved up $1.43 or nearly 2% to settle at $75.55 a barrel today.

Data released by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday showed crude inventories in the country fell by 6.866 million barrels last week, far more than the expected drop of about 4.03 million barrels, thanks to the ongoing recovery in consumption that's underpinned this year's crude rally.

The data also showed distillate stockpiles increased by 1.616 million barrels last week, much more than expected increase of 171,000 barrels, while gasoline inventories dropped by over 6 million barrels in the week, nearly three times the expected decline.

Oil prices moved higher despite concerns about possible excess supply in the market in the near term following the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies failing to agree on output policy.

The OPEC+, which was originally scheduled to announce its output policy last week, postponed their talks and then abandoned discussions without any agreement following a stand-off between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Investors now fear that the lack of a new supply agreement could prompt major oil producers to significantly step up production much faster.

Meanwhile, according to a report released by Baker Hughes, the number of oil and gas rigs in the United States increased by 4 this week to 479, up 221 from the same time last year.

Oil rig count rose by 2 to 378, while the number of gas rigs increased by 2 to 101.

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