U.S. crude posted its first weekly loss in five weeks on lingering doubts over the extent of OPEC cuts, with sentiment worsened by concerns over the economic health of the world's second-largest oil consumer China.
Despite China's oil thirst, overall exports — the country's economic backbone — declined by 7.7 percent last year in what was the second annual decline in a row and the worst since the depths of the global crisis in 2009.
Record Chinese crude imports of 8.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in December helped to buoy prices somewhat, traders said, but they could not hide underlying fears over the overall health of the world's second-biggest economy.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled down 64 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $52.37. For the week, it ended about
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading down 58 cents, or 1 percent, at $55.43 a barrel at 2:34 p.m. ET (1934 GMT) on Friday.