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Crude Oil Holds on to Week's Gains After High Inventories Threaten Rally

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Oil Market Summary for 06/14/2010 to 06/18/2010

Crude oil futures held on to strong gains for the week in lackluster Friday trading, after higher-than-expected inventories earlier in the week threatened to cut short the rally.

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At the same time, with the front-month July contract set to expire on Tuesday, analysts didn't see much incentive for prices to move above current levels next week.

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The benchmark West Texas Intermediate contract settled at $77.18 a barrel on Friday, locking in a gain of 4.6% for the week, compared with $73.78 a week earlier. The August contract, which becomes the benchmark on Wednesday, settled at $78.26 a barrel.

The weekly inventory report from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed crude stocks increased 1.69 million barrels in the week ended June 11, compared with the consensus forecast for a decline of 1.3 million barrels.

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Futures markets initially shrugged off the report, and, spurred by a rising stock market, pushed prices up on Wednesday to a $77.67 high for the week. Doubts set in again on Thursday, and the price fell below $77 a barrel before recouping some of the ground on Friday.

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