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By Ron Bousso LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices were steady near $49 a barrel early on Friday with some support from new Chinese reserve regulations yet remained on track for a seventh monthly fall weighed by a global supply glut. Data this week showed U.S. crude oil inventories had reached their highest levels since the 1930s. Brent crude oil futures were down 4 cents at $49.09 per barrel at 0839 GMT, while benchmark U.S. WTI futures were up 25 cents at $44.78 a barrel. Although Brent prices have kept within a band of $45-$50 a barrel for most of the month, high global stock levels threaten further declines, said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at London-based Energy Aspects.
BEIJING (AP) — Many Chinese families of passengers on the missing Malaysian airliner demanded Friday that Malaysian officials retract their statement that all aboard died, saying that without hard evidence they don't want to start compensation claims.
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Elaine Lies AMMAN/TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and Jordan were working closely on Friday to find out what had happened to two of their nationals being held by Islamic State, after a deadline passed for the release of a would-be suicide bomber being held on death row in Amman. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto. "We are gathering and analyzing information while asking for cooperation from Jordan and other countries, making every effort to free Kenji Goto," he told a parliamentary panel. Jordan said on Thursday it was still holding the Iraqi woman prisoner as a deadline passed for her release set by Islamic State militants, who threatened to kill a Jordanian pilot unless she was handed over by sunset.