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Tickers in this Article: UUP, COP, CEO, CVX, XOM, CHK
New York, April 27th ( - Despite the second downgrade to Spain's credit rating this year by ratings agency Standard & Poor's, oil futures found a way to muster a higher close to close out the week. NYMEX-traded crude for June delivery added 38 cents to settle at $104.93 per barrel in New York. In London, Brent crude for June delivery fell 9 cents to finish at $119.83 per barrel. That's the first time in several days the spread between the two contracts fell below $15 at the close, albeit moderately. U.S. economic data points were somewhat supportive on oil's modest gains. The Commerce Department said U.S. GDP grew by 2.2% in the first quarter down from 3% growth in the fourth quarter. Economists expected a first-quarter reading of 2.6%. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading of April consumer sentiment rose to 76.4 from 76.2 in March. Economists expected an April reading of 75.7.

A weaker dollar also helped matters for oil bulls as the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (NYSE: UUP) notched a small loss on the day. Looking at oil equities, shares of ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), the third-largest U.S. oil company, fell slightly after the company and partner Cnooc (NYSE: CEO), China's largest offshore oil exploration firm, agreed to pay $360 million to resolve claims stemming from an oil leak at a platform run by the companies in China's Bohai Bay. The leak took place late last year.

In earnings news, shares of Dow component Chevron (NYSE: CVX), the second-largest U.S. oil company, fell slightly after the company said its first-quarter profit rose to $6.47 billion, or $3.27 a share, up from $6.21 billion, or $3.09 a share, a year earlier. Higher oil prices and improved refining margins helped California-based Chevron boost its profit even in the face of lower production. During the quarter Chevron's production fell 4.7%, which is in line with the decreases posted by rivals such as Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and ConocoPhillips.

Late Friday, it was reported that Exxon would give up an exploration block in Brazil's Santos Basin. In other Friday news, Reuters reported that a retired board member of Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) loaned money to CEO Aubrey McClendon in the 1990s even as he helped determine McClendon's compensation.

The news is the latest in a spate of questionable financial moves made by McClendon that Chesapeake's board apparently signed off on and did not deem worthy of reporting to shareholders. Shares of Oklahoma-based Chesapeake were up today, but have plunged more than 27% in the past month.

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