NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. crude posted its biggest monthly drop since the 2008 financial crisis on Friday after a string of losses in July triggered by China's stock market slump and signs that top Middle East producers were pumping crude at record levels.
A higher U.S. oil rig count for a second straight week added to the market's downside Friday despite a weaker dollar, which would normally support commodities.
Heavy hedging activity in gasoline and diesel futures ahead of front-month contract expiration dominated play on the petroleum complex, diverting some attention from crude.
Oil prices fell for a fifth straight week.
U.S. crude settled down $1.40, or almost 3 percent, at $47.32 a barrel. It slid more than 2 percent on the week.
Through July, U.S. crude was down 21 percent, its largest monthly decline since October 2008, when oil had an epic collapse at the outbreak of the financial crisis.
Brent settled down $1.10, or 2 percent, at $52.21 a barrel. It lost 5 percent on the week and 18 percent on the month.
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