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Oil falls as demand concern contends with US-China trade hopes

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Oil prices slipped on Friday and were on track for weekly losses as concerns about a slowed global economic growth outweighed hints of progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute.

Brent crude futures traded 0.2% lower at $60.25 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled 0.4% lower at $54.85.

Brent fell 1.8% for the week, its first decrease in five weeks. WTI had a 2.7% loss for the week, its first decrease in three weeks.

The world's two largest economies are preparing for new talks and have been making conciliatory gestures ahead of the discussions.

China will exempt some agricultural products from additional tariffs on U.S. goods, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

Oil prices, however, remained under pressure by concern about a weaker demand outlook that could lead to potential oversupply.

"Oil appears to be suggesting that global economic growth has already been impacted by the tariffs while other markets such as the equities appear more focused on future progress," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

Both the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency (IEA) this week said oil markets could end up in surplus next year, despite a pact by OPEC and its allies to limit supplies. That is largely being offset by growth in U.S. production.

Brent prices have risen 12% so far in 2019, helped by the deal between OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day.

An OPEC+ monitoring committee met this week and secured pledges from OPEC members Nigeria and Iraq to deliver their share of the cut, something they have failed to do so far, but so far the group has not decided to deepen the curbs.

"In order to avoid a price slide and a massive inventory build, OPEC+ would need to implement further voluntary production cuts," said Eugen Weinberg, analyst at Commerzbank.

"The challenge facing OPEC+ is thus likely to become even bigger next year."

Some OPEC delegates say the idea of a larger cut for next year is gaining support, though Saudi Arabia's new energy minister said talks on that issue would be left until the next OPEC+ meeting in December.