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Brent Ends Above $113 on Growth Optimism

The Associated Press
Friday, 25 Jan 2013 | 4:07 PM ET

The price of U.S. crude oil edged settled below $96 per barrel Friday despite ample stockpiles of crude amid signs of growth in the world's two largest economies.

Brent crude settled unchanged from Thursday at $113.28 a barrel, off the session high of $113.84. U.S. crude fell 7 cents to settle at $95.88, off a high of $96.56. Crude was up 0.3 percent on the week.

Recent optimism about improving economies in the U.S. and China has helped support an upswing in oil prices. The U.S. housing and jobs markets have shown improvement, while China's manufacturing output has been gaining steam.

However, Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said that "prices could slip back" if crude inventories continue to rise. The Energy Information Administration said Thursday that U.S. oil supplies rose by 2.8 million barrels last week, more than analysts expected. That pushed oil stockpiles to 363.1 million barrels, up 8.5 percent from year-ago levels.

Oil prices also benefited from investors' confident mood, reflected by rising indexes on the main European stock markets and gains by the euro against the dollar.

A weaker dollar makes crude cheaper — and a more attractive investment — for traders using other currencies. On Friday, the euro was up at $1.3436 from $1.3378 late Thursday in New York.

"Crude oil prices extended gains on Friday ... mainly supported by the weaker US dollar that offered strong upside momentum to the market," said a report from Sucden Financial Research in London.