Oil hits year-high above $73

Crude futures get a boost from weak dollar and change in oil contract ahead of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech.

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LONDON (Reuters) -- Oil touched a year-high above $73 a barrel on Friday ahead of further pointers on the economic health of the United States and as the dollar flagged against a stronger euro.

The new front month U.S. crude futures contract for October delivery was up 83 cents at $73.74 a barrel and had reached as high as $73.88, its highest price so far in 2009.

Oil is on track for a 7.3% gain this week, and was last at this level on October 21, 2008 when it closed at $75.22 a barrel on its way down from a record peak in July above $147.

"Overall it's a relatively quiet market, with the dollar slightly weaker against the euro. Combined with slightly higher stock markets, that is partly why commodity prices are fairly stable right now," said broker Tony Machacek at Bache Commodities.

The market will scour Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech before the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at on Friday for more clues on the health of the world's largest economy.

The U.S. National Association of Realtors will also release existing home sales for July later in the morning. Economists forecast a total of 5.00 million annualized units versus 4.89 million in June.

As yet, there were few signs of recovering U.S. fuel demand. Freight traffic across North America fell 17.9% in the week ended Aug. 15 from the same 2008 week, a trade group said on Thursday in a weekly report. On the supply front, increased oil output to a year-high from OPEC president Angola, flouting agreed limits, has stacked the odds against any change when the producer group meets next month.

Without a sharp slide in crude prices, OPEC is likely to leave its output targets unchanged when it meets on Sept. 9, most OPEC delegates and analysts said. To top of page

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