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Oil futures top $86, set for weekly gain

Myra P. Saefong and Kristene Quan, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Crude-oil futures topped $86 a barrel Friday, trading higher and set for a weekly gain, buoyed by prospects for higher demand following upbeat economic data out of China and the U.S. and supply worries linked to Iran.

Crude for December delivery rose $1.33, or 1.6%, to $86.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It traded as low as $84.13 earlier and touched a high of $86.77.

A firmer dollar, worries over the fiscal cliff in the U.S. and Europe' s growth concerns remained in the backdrop.

"Oil is rebounding on the back of a better-than-expected boost in consumer confidence and hopes that President [Barack] Obama will make speech [later Friday] that will lead us away from the fiscal cliff," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group. The fiscal cliff refers to a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that will come into effect on Jan. 1 unless politicians reach a budget deal.

"There is also hope that demand for gasoline will return on the East Coast -- and also the market is seeing expectations that Chinese demand will rebound," Flynn said.

For the week, futures prices are up around 1.8%.

On the supply side, "concerns about the Middle East and ' Iran versus the West' " also provided support for oil, "while some of the demand worries eased after the release of better-than-expected Chinese data overnight, said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at GFT Markets, in a note.

News reports this week said that Iranian fighter planes shot at an unarmed American drone last week.

Over in China, industrial production picked up in October, rising a better-than-expected 9.6%. Other economic data were upbeat as well.



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