But concerns about inflation in China and possible measures to curb that rise in prices kept downward pressure on oil. Chinese inflation in May rose to a 3.1% annual rate, a 19-month high and just over Beijing's 3% maximum for inflation. At the same time, growth in China's industrial production slowed to 16.5% in the month from 17.8% in the previous month.
China has the second-largest oil consumption globally after the U.S., so signs of slower economic growth in both big consumer nations turned oil investors bearish on Friday.
Earlier in the week, news that Chinese exports rose nearly 50% in May helped boost crude oil prices. Also during the week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that U.S. economic recovery is on track and a double-dip recession is unlikely.
Those positive economic signs, combined with the second successive weekly decline in U.S. oil inventories, spurred the gains through Thursday.
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