Oil Prices End Skid

Prices had closed lower in five straight sessions and are off 13% from their recent record high.
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Updated from 3:10 p.m. EDT

Crude oil prices closed higher Friday, after closing lower in five straight sessions.

Recently, the October futures contract added 8 cents to $43.18 in bouncy floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are down about 13% since touching a record intraday high of $49.40 last Friday, when the September contract expired.

Traders and analysts had been predicting a sizable correction after prices routinely hit record highs in the first three weeks of August, driven by a host of worries about exports from Iraq, Russia and Venezuela.

The latest development to knock down prices was news Friday that Iraqi insurgents in Najaf had finally vacated the shrine of Imam Ali as part of a ceasefire in the fighting between a combination of U.S. and Iraqi forces and militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. That eased concerns about additional sabotage attacks on the country's oil infrastructure.

Violence in Iraq, including persistent attacks on pipelines and other facilities, has periodically shut down or slowed exports from the country.

Traders also have focused on Russia, where uncertainty has surrounded the outcome of the high-stakes tax battle between the government and Russian oil giant Yukos -- a tug-of-war drama that has sparked frequent concerns for its potential to slow exports.

The enormous rally in much of August when prices rose some 20% followed a brief correction after their previous June high, as OPEC increased its official production level by some 2.5 million barrels a day.