NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil rose to near a six-week high on Friday, steered by stronger gasoline demand and a positive consumer confidence report, but gains were capped by profit taking and a declining demand outlook.
The International Energy Agency lowered its global demand forecast for 2014 due to expectations that more Libyan crude will reach the market next week, pushing Brent prices lower.
U.S. crude moved in tandem with U.S. gasoline prices, which surged early in the session due to government data released mid-week that showed a substantial draw on stockpiles, signaling robust demand before the start of summer driving season.
Data showing U.S. consumer sentiment rose to a nine-month high in April also provided support, and pushed the American benchmark's price discount to Brent to its narrowest since mid-September.
Brent's price slipped after Russia backed off threats it made Thursday to disrupt Ukraine's natural gas supply, and therefore Europe's, unless Kiev paid its bill. Russian President Vladimir Putin guaranteed Friday "fulfillment of all our obligations to our European consumers."
"The reason we had a late day sell off is book squaring," said Phil Thompson, director of Mobius Risk Group in Houston. "Once U.S. crude got up to $104.50 there was profit taking, and RBOB had correlated moves with (U.S. crude) all day" triggering a sell off in gasoline, as well, Thompson said.
U.S. oil rose by as much as $1.04 to a session high of $104.44, before giving back much of its gains to settle 34 cents higher at $103.74 a barrel. The May contract rose nearly 2-1/2 percent on average over last week.
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