New York-traded crude oil futures ended the week at a nine-week high on Friday, climbing above the key USD100-a-barrel level after government data showed that U.S. oil supplies fell more-than-expected last week.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in February rose 0.77% on Friday to settle the week at USD100.32 a barrel by close of trade. U.S. oil prices rose to a session high of USD100.75 a barrel earlier, the strongest level since October 21.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD99.05 a barrel, the low from December 26 and resistance at USD101.22 a barrel, the high from October 21.
The February contract settled 0.33% higher on Thursday to end at USD99.55 a barrel. On the week, U.S. crude futures, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, rose 0.99%.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report released Friday that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.7 million barrels in the week ended December 20, compared to expectations for a decline of 2.3 million barrels.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 367.6 million barrels as of last week, the lowest since September.
The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.6 million barrels, compared to expectations for a gain of 1.2 million barrels.
U.S. oil prices received an additional boost amid indications of an improving U.S. economy. Data on Thursday showed that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits declined by 42,000 to a seasonally adjusted 338,000 last week. Analysts were expecting U.S. jobless claims to fall by 35,000 to 345,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 380,000.
In the week ahead, the U.S. is to publish reports on pending home sales, consumer confidence and jobless claims, as investors attempt to gauge the strength of the world’s largest oil consuming nation.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for February delivery eased up 0.18% on Friday to settle the week at USD112.18 a barrel.
Earlier in the session, London-traded Brent prices rose to USD112.80 a barrel, the highest since December 4, amid ongoing concerns over a disruption to supplies from Libya and South Sudan.
The February Brent contract added 0.36% on the week. Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the crude contracts stood at USD11.86 a barrel by close of trade on Friday.
Trading volumes are expected to remain light in the week ahead, with many markets closed for the New Year’s holiday, reducing liquidity in the market and increasing the volatility.
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