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Oil steady, with weekly gain in sight; awaits U.S. rig count

NEW YORK -- Oil prices were steady on Friday, on track for second consecutive weekly gain, after data from top energy consumers the United States and China boosted the oil demand outlook.

Traders and investors were also on the look out for a weekly reading due at 11 A.M. MT on the U.S. oil drilling rig count.

Oil drillers added oil rigs for a fifth week in sixth last week, the closely-followed report by oil services firm Baker Hughes showed. That prompted analysts to predict the U.S. oil rig count has bottomed and production will start to edge up by early next year.

Brent crude futures were up 30 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $47.67 by 9:36 a.m. MT. It slipped as much as 1.5 percent earlier to a session low of $46.65.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose 20 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $45.88. The intraday low was $45.05.

Concerns about a global glut in crude and refined products had weighed on oil earlier in the session.

Brent was on track for a weekly gain of about 2 percent and WTI around 1 percent after a volatile week. The market saw daily moves of up to 5 percent earlier this week as the market corrected from last week's near 8-percent slump and reacted to bearish U.S. oil inventory data.

Oil prices hit session highs on Friday after data showed U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in June as Americans bought motor vehicles and a variety of other goods, reinforcing views of steady economic growth in the second quarter. Consumer prices also surged for a fourth straight month.

China's economic growth, which came in at 6.7 percent in the second quarter versus a year ago, also bolstered the market.

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