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Oil rises above $44 despite grim U.S. economic news

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Oil prices rose above $44 a barrel Friday on investor optimism that falling U.S. gasoline costs amid the worst recession in decades may increase demand for crude.

Dollar weakness also helped boost oil prices, although gains were limited by news that the U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent in February, up from 7.6 percent in January and the highest since late 1983. Companies cut 651,000 jobs during the month, about as expected by markets.

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