Oil registers a gain for the week, buoyed by fall in U.S. rig count

Oil futures gave up earlier losses Friday to score a weekly rise, with U.S. prices settling at a fresh six-week high, as traders gauged expectations for energy demand against conflicting news tied to China-U.S. trade talks.

A weekly decline in the number of U.S. oil rigs actively drilling for oil provided some support to oil Friday, said Tariq Zahir, managing member at Tyche Capital Advisors.

Data released Friday from Baker Hughes Co. BKR, +0.72%  pointed to a further slowdown in oil drilling activity, with the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil down a third consecutive week. The number fell by 7 to 684 this week, down 202 from a year ago.

Against that backdrop, West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery CLZ19, +0.51%  rose 9 cents, or 0.2%, to settle at $57.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after trading as low as $55.76 during the session. Front-month contract prices settled at their highest since Sept. 24, according to Dow Jones Market Data. For the week, U.S. benchmark oil prices rose almost 1.9%.

January Brent crude BRNF20, +0.18%, the international benchmark, climbed 22 cents, or 0.4%, to $62.51 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, following a 0.9% gain on Thursday. For the week, Brent rose 1.3%.

“Conflicting signals over when the United States and China will agree on a deal to end 18 long months of trade disputes and uncertainty” had pressured prices early Friday, said Lukman Otunuga, senior research analyst at FXTM.

“Although markets remain cautiously optimistic over a trade deal on the horizon, conflicting signals from both sides could weigh on global sentiment and investor confidence,” he told MarketWatch. “Given how oil markets remain heavily influenced by growth concerns and fears of falling demand for oil, further downside could be on the cards if

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