Oil Settles Higher, But Post Weekly Decline, Ahead Of OPEC Compliance Confab

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Oil futures finished the session sharply higher on Friday, but booked a weekly loss, as investors focused on a decline in rigs drilling for oil against a coming OPEC meeting to assess compliance of to an agreement to check global production and stabilize crude prices. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in September advanced 55 cents, or 1.1%, at $49.58. However for the week, crude prices finished about 0.4% lower, according to FactSet data. Crude prices added to earlier gains after a report at 1 p.m. Eastern showed that overall U.S. rig counts pulled back for the week, helping to support gains in crude-oil prices on Friday. The number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil fell by 1 to 765 rigs this week, while those drilling for gas declined by 3 to 189, bringing the overall oil-and-gas count to 954 for the week, according to Baker Hughes. Oil had been on the rise after an upbeat reading of U.S. employment showed that 209,000 jobs were created in July, with the unemployment rate falling to a 16-year low at 4.3%. Strong U.S. jobs can suggest impending demand for crude, lifting prices. Looking ahead, investors will be focused on a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss compliance to agreed upon global production limits that run through March 2018. The meeting is set for set for Aug. 7-8 in Abu Dhabi.

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