- Oil prices rose on Thursday after weekly U.S. inventory data revealed demand for distillates remains robust despite gains posted in oil and gasoline stockpiles.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March traded at USD97.61 a barrel during U.S. trading, up 0.91%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of USD96.42 a barrel and a high of USD97.77 a barrel.

The March contract settled up 1.85% at USD96.73 a barrel on Wednesday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD93.66 a barrel, Monday''s low, and resistance at USD98.96 a barrel, the high from Jan. 2.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 990,000 barrels in the week ended Jan. 17, outpacing expectations for an increase of 588,000 barrels.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 351.2 million barrels as of last week.

The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.1 million barrels, broadly in line with market expectations.

Meanwhile inventories of distillates, which include diesel fuel and heating oil, fell by 3.2 million barrels compared to market calls for a loss of 851,000, which supported crude prices.

The data came out one day later than usual due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday earlier in the week.

Elsewhere, prices rose on reports that the Keystone XL pipeline linking Cushing, Oklahoma, to the U.S. Gulf Coast began making deliveries this week, which should ease bottlenecks that have depressed prices at times.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for March delivery were down 0.48% and trading at USD107.76 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD10.15 a barrel.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger