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Oil down ahead of producer meeting

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Crude oil prices fell on Friday ahead of a weekend meeting that could yield an output freeze by major producers, while the US dollar and stocks across the globe edged lower but posted weekly gains.

[NEW YORK] Crude oil prices fell on Friday ahead of a weekend meeting that could yield an output freeze by major producers, while the US dollar and stocks across the globe edged lower but posted weekly gains.

On Wall Street, energy stocks led the market slightly lower as oil fell, and Apple shares also weighed after Nikkei business daily reported Apple will continue its reduced production of iPhones in light of sluggish sales.

The S&P 500, however, posted its seventh positive week in the last nine.

The MSCI index of stocks across the globe hit its highest point of the year on Thursday and emerging market stocks racked up their best weekly gain in six. European shares fell 0.3 per cent but posted their largest weekly gain in two months.

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On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.97 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 17,897.46, the S&P 500 lost 2.05 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,080.73 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.67 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 4,938.22.

Japan's Nikkei closed 6.5 per cent higher for the week.

China's economy grew 6.7 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, meeting expectations and providing additional evidence that a slowdown in the world's second largest economy may be bottoming out.

The dollar index slipped 0.2 per cent after the US currency had gained more than 1 per cent against both the yen and the euro earlier this week.

Speculation was still rife about whether top oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia will be able to reach a deal in Qatar on Sunday to curb output. "I think the fact that oil producers are talking suggests that the psychology of the market has changed a little bit and probably the worst of the oil price declines is behind us. This would be good for risk sentiment going forward," said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.

Brent crude futures were down 1.7 per cent at US$43.10 and US crude fell 2.7 per cent, trading at US$40.40. Both finished the week higher after rallies of about 8 per cent in the previous week.

US Treasury yields fell after the weaker-than-expected economic data, which suggests sluggish inflation and could prompt Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to hold off on raising US interest rate hikes further according to Lou Brien, markets strategist at DRW Trading in Chicago. "We do have a bid in the market and I think it's because of the continued weakness in industrial production and utilisation," Mr Brien said.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 8/32 in price to yield 1.7535 per cent, from 1.781 per cent late Thursday.

Safe-haven gold posted a weekly loss, the first in three.

REUTERS

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