U.S. crude closed lower on Friday after Baker Hughes data showed an increase in U.S. oil rigs.
Baker Hughes data showed U.S. oil rigs rose by 21 week-over-week to 659. Nevertheless, the count remains down by 903 rigs year-over-year. The gain this week was also only the third increase over the past 33 weeks, bringing the total rig count up to 659, the highest since late May, Baker Hughes said in its report.
West Texas Intermediate oil futures settled down 31 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $48.14 a barrel—the lowest since March 31. It hit a session low of $47.72 a barrel after the release. Brent was down 0.6 percent, at $54.60 a barrel.
Brent and U.S. crude have posted double-digit losses in July. With U.S. crude off more than 18 percent, it could challenge the 19.4 percent loss in December.
U.S. crude losses follow Thursday's fall into bear market territory, with its $48.45 a barrel settlement off 21 percent from the June 10 close at $61.43. A 20 percent downturn is considered by many traders to constitute a bear market.
China's factory sector contracted by the most in 15 months in July, a preliminary private survey showed on Friday, a worse-than-expected result that follows a stock market slide that began in June.