- Crude oil prices continued to fall into Asai on Friday as ample supplies outweigh, for now, the threat of disruption of shipments from Iraq and U.S. data pointed to weaker than expected demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate rude oil for delivery in August traded at $105.68 a barrel, down 0.16%, after hitting an overnight session low of $105.04 a barrel and a high of $106.85 a barrel.

Lackluster U.S. data sparked a round of profit taking on Thursday.

The Brent oil contract on the ICE Futures Europe fell by 0.1% to $113.67, and is now $2 below the levels reached a week ago.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending June 21 declined by 2,000 to 312,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 314,000.

Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 4,000 to 310,000 last week.

A separate report showed that U.S. personal spending rose 0.2% last month, below expectations for an increase of 0.4%. Personal spending for April was revised to a flat reading from a previously reported decline of 0.1%.

The U.S. is the world''s largest consumer of crude, and weak economic indicators can send oil prices dipping on concerns demand for fuel and energy will slip.

Waning fears that the Iraqi insurgency will disrupt oil shipments fueled the selloff as well.

Iraq produced approximately 3.5 million barrels a day of oil last month, making it OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia, and reports on Tuesday confirmed market sentiments that crude continues to flow from the crisis-ridden country, which added to Thursday''s profit taking.

Exports from Iraq''s southern terminals averaged 2.53 million barrels per day (bpd) up to June 21, according to shipping data and Reuters sources, which suggests production remains on track to resemble May''s average of 2.58 million bpd - the highest since 2003.

Cushioning losses, however, were upbeat comments from a key Federal Reserve official.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told Fox Business Network earlier that an improving economy may make conditions ripe for interest rates to rise possibly in early 2015.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that U.S. gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 2.9% in the first quarter of the year, far surpassing consensus forecasts for a decline of 1.7%, though markets quickly brushed off the dismal numbers as a weather-related disappointment.

"I think the market''s right to shake this off," Bullard told the network, describing the contraction as an "aberration."

"If you throw out the first quarter and just look forward over the next four quarters, most forecasters have 3%-plus growth."

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