UPDATE 7-Oil hits three-month high on economic optimism
* U.S. crude inventories rise more than expected last week
* Investors await Fed policy meeting outcome
* European economic sentiment index rises for a third month
* Weak U.S. GDP data tempers gains
LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil hit a three-month high on Wednesday, reaching $115 a barrel after better-than-forecast European data spurred optimism over the global economy, despite disappointing U.S. economic growth figures.
Brent crude oil futures were 35 cents higher at $114.71 a barrel by 1623 GMT after hitting $115.24, their highest since Oct. 16, 2012.
U.S. crude oil was 10 cents up to $97.67 after the U.S. Energy information Administration released data showing crude inventories rose more than forecast last week, while refined products fell.
Euro zone economic sentiment improved more than expected across all sectors in January, rising for the third month in a row in a sign that the economy could be emerging from a low point in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The European Commission's economic sentiment index rose to 89.2 points in January from 87.8 points in December, against market expectations of an improvement to 88.2.
U.S crude oil inventories jumped 5.95 million barrels in the week to Jan. 25, the EIA said in its weekly report. Analysts had forecast a 2.6 million barrel crude build.
Brent crude is up 3.5 percent this month, its biggest gain since August, but lagging behind equities, with the U.S. S&P 500 up about 5.7 percent.
Filip Petersson, an SEB analyst in Stockholm, pointed to likely relative weakness for oil in coming months because of a fairly well-supplied oil market.
"Oil has followed risk assets higher, but we think it's strong versus the fundamentals, with production cuts needed from Saudi Arabia due to strong supply from OPEC," he said.
Tempering gains, the U.S. economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, suffering its first decline since the 2007-09 recession as businesses scaled back on restocking and government spending plunged.
The focus, however, is now on the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) two-day monetary policy meeting, which started on Tuesday. The Fed has said it expects to keep short-term U.S. interest rates exceptionally low to support the economy.
The low rates have helped to push up oil prices, with investors pouring cash into riskier asset classes.
"At the January FOMC meeting, we believe that the Fed is unlikely to make any major policy changes, but the Fed is likely to mention the modestly improving U.S. economy," Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics, said in a report.
The short-term oil outlook was also buoyed by optimism about growth acceleration in China.
January factory activity in China is expected to have expanded at its fastest pace in nine months, according to a Reuters poll ahead of official PMI data on Friday, adding to signs that recovery momentum is building as domestic demand strengthens.
The rebound in China's growth is expected to continue until the second quarter before fading in the second half, though an economic rebound elsewhere towards year-end is likely to sustain global growth rates for the year, said Jeremy Friesen, a commodities strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.
Supply risks from the Middle East also supported oil prices after activists said at least 65 people were found shot dead with their hands bound in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday in the near two-year revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
Also raising tension in the Middle East was news of an Israeli attack on a convoy on the Syrian-Lebanese border.