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Oil ends higher after US data; Libya and Ukraine tensions

Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom, March 23, 2014 near McKittrick, California.
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Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom, March 23, 2014 near McKittrick, California.

Brent crude held steady near $110 a barrel on Friday, on track for a second weekly gain, supported by conflicts in Libya and Ukraine as well as positive economic data in the world's top oil consumers.

A recent rally in oil prices, which pushed Brent to a 2-1/2-month peak just above $111 on Thursday, could gain further momentum as Asian shares edged up to one-year highs on Friday on signs of improving momentum in the world's biggest economies.

Brent crude was flat above $110 a barrel. The contract settled 19 cents lower on Thursday, after touching a session high of $111.04, the highest since March 4.

U.S. crude rose 61 cents to end at $104.36 a barrel after settling 33 cents lower, its third weekly gain on the back of a steep drop in U.S. oil inventories last week. The contract was helped by data showing housing starts rose to a near 4 year peak.

The oil market was supported by signs of global economic growth, with U.S. manufacturing growth picking up to a three-month high in May, and China's factory sector turning in its best performance this year in May.

Oil prices were also supported by new supply disruptions in Libya. Protesters shut the headquarters of the company running the Brega oil port, the only eastern port to have remained open throughout most of the nine month stand-off with a rebel group, state news agency LANA said on Thursday. Libya's oil output was around 230,000 bpd on Wednesday, but the exact production level remained unclear on Friday.

Investors also kept an eye on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine - a main gas supply route for Europe from Russia - where presidential elections are scheduled for Sunday.

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