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Oil prices dip at end of strong week
[NEW YORK] World oil prices closed a strong week slightly lower Friday, as profit taking chipped away at the rally spurred largely by optimism for a production freeze by major producers.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in April fell 76 US cents to US$39.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for May delivery, the European benchmark, finished at US$41.20 a barrel after dipping 34 US cents from Thursday's settlement.
The modest declines followed two straight days of gains that pushed WTI and Brent to their highest levels of the year Thursday.
For the week, WTI finished up 2.4 per cent and Brent 2 per cent.
"We had another strong week. It's the fifth of consecutive gains," said Matt Smith of ClipperData.
"So I think heading into the weekend people are taking some profits." Qatar's energy minister, Mohammed al-Sada, confirmed this week that exporters from within and outside the Opec cartel will meet April 17 in Doha, stoking hopes of an agreement to ease a global supply glut.
"Crude oil has found support from growing optimism that key Opec and non-Opec producers will agree a deal to freeze production," Inenco energy consultants said in a note to clients.
Mr Smith pointed out that the US dollar's renewed strength had weighed Friday on the market. Crude oil is priced in the US currency.
"We've been egged up all week by a weaker dollar, and we're seeing the dollar strength coming back today. The combination of these factors is causing a selloff to end the week," he said.
Meanwhile, the Baker Hughes weekly count of oil rigs operating in the United States rose by one after falling for more than two months running, while gas rigs dropped by five.
In Canada, the number of oil and gas rigs fell by 33.