NEW YORK, May 22 (UPI) -- This week's rally in crude oil prices came to an abrupt end Friday with key indices down more than 1 percent on small gains in demand.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, slipped back below the $60 mark after Thursday's gains to fall 1.6 percent in early Friday trading to $59.72 per barrel. WTI prices started May at $59.19.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute show total U.S. petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, gained 0.7 percent year-on-year in April. Demand for some petroleum products like gasoline and other ground transportation fuels declined.
"As has been the case for some time, the market's primary themes in April were strong supply and moderate demand growth," API Chief Economist John Felmy said in a statement. Oil field services company Baker Hughes reported activity in the North American exploration and production sector was recovering. The total number of rigs actively exploring for or producing reserves in the United States dropped six from the week ending May 8, while Canada added two more rigs.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported total U.S. oil production at 9.26 million barrels per day for the week ending May 15, down 1.2 percent from the previous week.
Internationally, the rig count dropped 49, or nearly 4 percent, Baker Hughes reported. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, dropped 1.8 percent to $65.54. Brent started May at $66.16 per barrel.
Oil prices were supported during mid-week trading by signs of forward momentum in Asian economies.