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US oil settles up 1.9%, at $47.26 a barrel

U.S. crude oil prices closed higher on Friday after oilfield services firm Baker Hughes released weekly data showing the U.S. oil rig count fell for a seventh consecutive week.

The number of rigs in the nation's oilfields fell by 10 to a total of 595 in the week ended Oct. 16. At this time last year, oil and gas producers were operating 1,590 rigs.

The rig counts have seen the longest streak of weekly declines since June, data showed Friday, a sign low prices continued to keep drillers away from the well pad. Over the prior six weeks, drillers had cut 70 rigs.

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U.S. crude settled up 88 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $47.26 a barrel. Brent's new front-month December contract traded up 70 cents at $50.40 a barrel.

Crude oil prices had inched higher in choppy trade prior to the report, as short covering fueled a small rally after four days of sharp losses, though gains were limited as prices failed to break through key technical levels.

Despite Friday's rise, U.S. crude and Brent were on track for their steepest weekly loss in 10 weeks and eight weeks, respectively, after the International Energy Agency predicted the global market would remain oversupplied through 2016.

Earlier Friday, West Texas Intermediate futures rose more than a dollar in technical trade after briefly rising over the 14-day moving average, traders said. But, it was unable to maintain the gains and returned to levels little changed from Thursday's close.

Strong equity markets also supported earlier gains as European shares reached a two-month high, buoyed by bullish Asian and U.S. trading on positive U.S. economic data.

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"Even if crude prices go up now, we could be seeing Iranian crude coming back to the market, pushing it down again. I think downward movement is more likely for the rest of this year," said Daniel Ang, an investment analyst at Singapore-based Phillip Futures.

A meeting of OPEC technical experts in Vienna on Oct. 21 may give indications whether sentiment is shifting within the organization about maintaining production levels as prices remain muted.

In the North Sea, the Buzzard oilfield, which plays a role in pricing global crude exports, was shut after an operational glitch.

—CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.