Crude oil traded slightly higher but remained near $71 a barrel, set for the first weekly downturn in five weeks, as US fuel demand remained to lower than year-earlier levels, Bloomberg reported.

Crude oil for July 2009 delivery traded at $71.49 a barrel, up $0.12, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 9.51am Singapore time. On 11 June this year the prices rose 60% and reached a seven-month high of $73.23.

On 17 June the Energy Department said that the petroleum product’s demand in the US averaged 18.5 million barrels a day in the four weeks to 12 June, down 6% from a year ago.

Oil has closed at more than $70 in New York every day this week on expectations an economic recovery will increase fuel consumption.

The contract for July 2009 expires on 22 June. The more active August 2009 contract was at $72.11 a barrel, up $0.20, at 9.31am Singapore time.

The price of oil is poised to drop 0.7% this week, breaking four weeks of increase.

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By GlobalData

“The reaction to the US data overnight was relatively muted despite it being on the good side of expectations,” Commonwealth Bank’s Moore said.

This week crude increased to more than $72 because of a weaker dollar and militant attacks that disrupted supply in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Brent crude for August 2009 settlement was traded at $71.21 a barrel, up $0.15, on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange at 9.27am Singapore time.