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imageSINGAPORE: Brent crude held below $98 a barrel on Friday, but was set for its first weekly gain in three on the possibility of lower OPEC output. OPEC's secretary-general this week said the supply group may reduce production soon, while Libya has again cut output amid anarchy in the country.

Brent has remained below $100 since Sept. 9, as global oil production growth, led by the United States, exceeded demand.

A stronger dollar also dragged on oil markets on Friday as it makes greenback-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Brent was down 4 cents at $97.66 a barrel by 0418 GMT, while the October US crude was 5 cents lower at $93.02. Both contracts staged their biggest daily drop in more than two weeks on Thursday.

"With the macroeconomics still remaining relatively soft, we still believe that crude oil prices should come under pressure," said Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Ayers Alliance in Sydney.

Weak home prices in China added to the gloom over the world's second-largest economy, intensifying fears of a slowdown in the key metals consumer.

Elsewhere, weekly US data showed a sharp spike in crude stockpiles which could be exacerbated as the country's refineries head into a maintenance season.

"We expect markets to move sideways, while Northern Hemisphere refineries work through scheduled maintenance before better winter demand ushers in a mild price recovery," ANZ analysts said in a note on Friday.

The dollar strengthened against major currencies, with the dollar index hitting its highest in more than four years on Friday, underpinned by an improved US jobs market.

Investors are also paying close to attention to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, with Barratt saying any escalation in conflict with Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria could push up prices.

The US Senate has voted in favour of helping moderate Syrian rebels fight the militants.

The results of Scotland's referendum on its independence were also in focus as it is home to most of the North Sea oil reserves.