Oil down as dollar rallies, rise in US rig count seen


New York—Crude oil prices fell on Friday as a stronger dollar weighed on the market and as traders awaited an industry report that would determine if US oil drillers were ramping up activity with prices holding above $50 a barrel. Brent, the London-trade crude benchmark, was down 40 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $51.63 a barrel by 1505 GMT, after rising earlier to $52.55. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude shed 34 cents to $50.14, after peaking at $51.14 earlier.
The US benchmark saw better support than Brent due to an extended outage on a pipeline capable of delivering 450,000 barrels per day of crude into the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for WTI, traders said. Both Brent and WTI rose in the previous session, continuing their recent upward momentum, despite the US government reporting the first domestic crude inventory build in six weeks. Prices rose as market participants focused instead on larger-than-expected drawdowns in diesel, gasoline and other stockpiles reported by the US Energy Information Administration.
But in the latest session, a rallying dollar, which rose nearly 0.5 percent, weighed on the greenback-denominated crude, making it costlier to holders of the euro and other currencies. Concerns about the near 5 million-barrel crude build reported by the EIA on Thursday also forced crude prices to retreat. These aside, traders cited caution ahead of the closely-watched weekly report on the US oil rig count due from industry firm Baker Hughes. The number of active oil rigs in the country has not fallen for 15 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 1987.—AP