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Crude oil futures - Weekly review: August 22 - 26

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Forexpros - Crude oil prices inched higher on Friday, bouncing off a four-day low after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank was ready to provide more support to a weak U.S. economy, while investors monitored the progression of Hurricane Irene.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in October traded at USD85.47 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, jumping 3.75% over the week, its first weekly gain in five.

Crude prices initially traded lower on Friday, slumping to a four-day low of USD82.95 a barrel after a government report showed that the U.S. economy grew 1% in the second quarter, disappointing expectations for an expansion of 1.1% and slower than an initial estimate of 1.3%.

However, prices rebounded after Fed Chief Bernanke said in a speech at the central bank's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that the Fed remained prepared to implement fresh measures to stimulate the faltering U.S. economy, but stopped short of outlining when and if this may happen.

Bernanke added that the Fed expects "a moderate recovery" to continue and strengthen over time.

Bernanke also announced that the central bank's September policy-setting meeting would run for two days instead of one, in order to "allow a fuller discussion" of the economic outlook.

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Hurricane Irene made landfall along the North Carolina coast on Friday, as it headed north towards the U.S. Northeast. Forecasters expected the storm to arrive in the New Jersey-New York area on Sunday.

Energy traders track tropical storm activity in the event it could damage oil facilities in the U.S. and prompt oil producers to shut down refineries.

Also Friday, global financial service provider Deutsche Bank lowered its crude price forecast for the remainder of the year to USD94 a barrel, down from a previous estimate of USD100 a barrel, citing concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for October delivery traded at USD111.11 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, as markets continued to asses how quickly oil production in Libya would return to pre-war levels.

The Brent contract advanced 2.12% over the week, with the spread between the two contracts widening to USD25.64 a barrel, re-approaching the record high of USD26.42 it hit on August 19.

Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of the largest international oil producer operating in Libya, Eni SpA said on Thursday that it would take the company between six to 18 months to restart oil production in Libya.

The comments came after Wall Street lender Citibank estimated Wednesday that Libya could resume its full oil production capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day by the end of 2012.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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