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) -- Oil may be on the march again, but if or when it breaks through $75 is anyone's guess.

Crude futures Friday were building on gains from Thursday as several media reports suggest signs of economic recovery, and therefore potential energy demand, were bubbling to the surface and driving upward moves. But prices were still moving hesitantly on fears that any seeming recovery may not have legs.

During the open cry, benchmark crude's front-month contract gained 86 cents Friday to $73.35 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the contract for October delivery slid in the early going, only to later settle higher by $1.06 at $72.49. Still, futures have traded lower since the contract price briefly touched $75 earlier in the week.

In more general market news this morning, the Commerce Department said personal spending rose in July. Stock indexes also moved slightly higher, although they were mixed. On Friday,


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boosted its revenue outlook for the third quarter, giving momentum to a tech sector already giddy from


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better-than-expected earnings post from Thursday.

Today, the euro was also moving higher against the dollar, which has tended to move inversely with crude of late as traders use dollar-denominated commodities as a hedge.

Oil majors finished Thursday largely mixed, but most were slipping in the early going today.

Exxon Mobil

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shares fell 38 cents to $70.48 this morning.


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joined it in negative territory, bidding at $70.60 after losing 40 cents.

Marathon Oil

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continued losing ground today, dipping another 35 cents to $31.26.


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shares were changing hands in the red as well, down 16 cents at $45.57.

Meanwhile, American depositary shares for


(BP) - Get BP Plc Report


Royal Dutch Shell


were just holding on, adding 0.4% and 0.1% each.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York


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