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Oil Recovers From Early Dip

Crude nearly fell below $70 a barrel but recovered to close nearly flat.

Crude prices collapsed Friday and nearly fell below $70 a barrel, before recovering later in the day to finish nearly even.

September light sweet crude is down 12 cents to $71.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Reformulated gasoline is unchanged at $1.94 a gallon. Heating oil slipped 2 cents to $1.97 a gallon.

September natural gas jumped 23 cents to $6.82 per million British thermal units.

Oil prices declined in step with U.S. equity markets through most of Friday's trading session. "Continued downward pressure from both equities and the corporate bond markets will eventually undermine commodity prices and not necessarily revive them," wrote Edward Meir, analyst at Man Financial, in a research note.

Crude's Friday slide marks the end of a week that saw a sharp trend reversal for the commodity, which only last week reached an all-time high of $78.19 a barrel.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were mostly lower in the session. The

CBOE Oil Index

was down fractionally at 717.49.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get ConocoPhillips Report

dropped 0.6% to $77.79.

Citigroup upgraded three oil stocks on Friday.

Valero

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(VLO) - Get Valero Energy Corporation Report

was bumped to hold from sell, lifting its shares 1.8% to $68.77.

Tesoro

(TSO)

was also upgraded to hold from sell, raising it 4.5% to $49.12.

Marathon

(MRO) - Get Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO) Report

was upgraded to buy from hold, sending its shares 6.1% higher to $52.24.

Noble

(NE) - Get Noble Corporation plc Report

was upgraded by Credit Suisse to outperform from neutral. Shares of Noble climbed 3.4% to $97.23 on the news.

Goodrich Petroleum

(GDP) - Get Goodrich Petroleum Corporation Report

was downgraded by Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey to reduce from neutral, lowering its shares 7.9% to $34.54.