West TX Oil Steadies Around $56 Despite Rising U.S. Rig Count

Oil prices dropped on Friday as a rising U.S. rig count stoked fears of oversupply and after Chinese regulators opened an investigation into suspected stock market manipulation.

Front-month U.S. crude futures were trading at $56.72 per barrel at 0212 GMT, down 21 cents from their last settlement.  That means that U.S. crude has fallen from a price range of $57-62 per barrel that it had been in since early May.

Brent crude futures were more stable, down just 3 cents at $62.04 per barrel. But the contract remained in a downward trend that has been in place since early May and which has seen prices fall almost 10 percent.