February 8th, 2012

Crude oil rose to its highest in a week in New York after a report showed U.S. stockpiles shrank, signaling increased demand in the world’s biggest crude consumer.

West Texas Intermediate futures climbed to $99.65 a barrel, the highest since Jan. 31. Crude inventories fell 4.5 million barrels in the seven days ended Feb. 3, the first drop in three weeks, the American Petroleum Institute said after yesterday’s settlement. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had forecast today’s Energy Department report would show supplies rose 2.5 million barrels.

“Inventories decreasing are adding to the supply concerns in the market,” said Sintje Boie, an analyst at HSH Nordbank in Hamburg. “Demand is quite strong because of the winter season. There are already supply worries from Iran’s threat to stop exports to Europe.”

Crude for March delivery advanced as much as $1.24, or 1.3 percent, to $99.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $99.28 at 12:50 p.m. London time. Yesterday, it increased $1.50 to $98.41, the highest settlement since Jan. 31. Prices are up 14 percent from a year ago.

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