Oil ends near $108, hit by Syrian diplomacy and weak data

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Crude fell on Friday, after the U.S. and Russian foreign ministers agreed to push for a conference to end Syria's civil war as talks on removing chemical weapons raised hopes for broader negotiations.

Expectations of an imminent U.S. attack on Syria helped push Brent above $117 at the end of August as investors worried the conflict would affect the huge oil exporters of the Gulf, which pump around a third of the world's oil.

But tensions have eased over the last few days and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Sergei Lavrov are trying to flesh out a Moscow plan to dispose of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons.

Meanwhile, weak U.S. data raised new concerns about demand in the world's largest economy. Retail sales rose less than expected in August even as demand increased for automobiles and other big-ticket items, the latest sign that economic growth slowed in the third quarter.

Benchmark Brent crude for October, which expires on Friday, staged a late day pop to trade over $112 a barrel, up about 15 cents on the day. U.S. crude settled down 39 cents at $108.21.

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