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OIL PRICES RISE IN LIGHT VOLUME

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Oil prices increased Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange in quiet pre-weekend trading.

"We saw prices rise a bit in very light volume," said Jerry Samuels, managing director at ARB Oil Inc. in New York. "There was no fundamental reason."On the Merc, light sweet crude for September delivery rose 12 cents to $17.75 a barrel.

"The market has been under a lot of pressure all week so traders were buying back previously sold contracts," Samuels said.

Oil prices have been on a roller-coaster ride in recent days.

In the beginning of the week, the prospect of an Iraqi return to oil exporting circles drove prices lower, but word Wednesday of an expected emergency meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries boosted prices.

However, prices lost some Thursday on word the cartel had begun reconsidering the meeting.

Friday OPEC said they were postponing the meeting and would not specify a new date.

"It was a very convoluted week in the way of news coming out of OPEC," Samuels said.

"Even if they (OPEC) do meet they are meeting out of a position of weakness rather than strength," he said.

The biggest news in the market according to industry observers is the potential of an Iraqi return to the oil arena.