MTECHTIPS:- Oil down on strong dollar, OPEC uncertainty

MTECHTIPS:- Oil down on strong dollar, OPEC uncertainty

Oil prices slid on Friday, dragged by a strong dollar and uncertainty over whether OPEC will agree to cut production at the group’s meeting next week, but benchmark contracts were on track to close the week with gains close to 4 percent. Brent crude futures were trading at $48.53 a barrel at 1253 GMT, down 47 cents. U.S. crude futures fetched $47.56 a barrel, down 40 cents. Overall activity on both contracts was thin after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and ahead of the weekend. The main drag on prices was the dollar, which this week hit levels last seen in 2003 against a basket of other currencies. A strong dollar could crimp fuel demand due to higher costs for holders of other currencies. Reports that state oil giant Saudi Aramco would in January increase oil supplies to some Asian customers also cast a shadow on markets, traders said. A decline in China’s October crude oil imports to their lowest on a daily basis since January added to the bearish tone. But analysts said fundamentals were little changed – apart from concerns over the fate next week of a Saudi-led plan for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers to agree on cuts in crude output. The market “is taking it easy ahead of a long weekend (in the United States) and uncertainty over OPEC,” said Barney Rothschild, chief commodities analyst with SEB Bank in Oslo. “There is no other big bearish news

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