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Oil prices steady, on track for second straight week of losses

Oil prices were little changed on Friday, heading for their second straight week of losses as the U.S. central bank left the door open for possible future rate hikes and worries that the Middle East conflict would disrupt supply eased.

Brent crude futures rose 6 cents to $86.91 a barrel by 0010 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 12 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $82.58 a barrel.

Both benchmarks had gained more than $2 a barrel on Thursday. Brent was on track to fall about 4 per cent in the week, while WTI looked set to close down 3.5 per cent.

Geopolitical concerns remained in focus, as Israeli forces on Thursday encircled Gaza City – the Gaza Strip’s main city – in their assault on Hamas, the military said, but the Palestinian militant group resisted their drive with hit-and-run attacks from underground tunnels.

The White House said it was exploring a series of pauses in the Israel-Hamas conflict to help people safely exit Gaza and allow humanitarian aid to get in, but reiterated its opposition to a full ceasefire.

On the supply side, top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to reconfirm an extension of its voluntary oil-output cut of 1 million barrels per day through December, analysts expect.

U.S. oil rig count data is expected later in the day and will serve an indicator of future production.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal delivered a ‘dovish’ pause to its rate hikes on Wednesday, while the BoE delivered a ‘hawkish’ pause on Thursday.

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