UPDATE 6-Oil rises, U.S. crude hits nine-month high
* U.S. decision to arm Syrian rebels could cause escalation
* Brent at 2-1/2-month high
* Dollar remains weak after hitting four-month low
(Adds details, updates prices; adds NEW YORK dateline, second byline)
NEW YORK/LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - Brent crude rose and U.S. oil struck a nine-month high on Friday after news that the United States had authorized sending U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels sparked concerns about Middle East supplies.
Though Syria is not a key global oil supplier, investors are worried that an escalating civil war could lead to unrest in oil-producing regions of the Middle East.
The news pushed crude out of a sluggish trading range, sending global benchmark Brent to a more than two-month high and U.S. West Texas Intermediate to a nine-month high, exiting the $90 to $97 a barrel range WTI had held since May 1.
"The bulls are in charge either until we get news that the economy is in trouble or the Fed pulls back on stimulus," said Gene McGillian, analyst with Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Front-month Brent futures were on track for their strongest week since April, having hit a high of $106.64 per barrel. Brent was last trading up 93 cents at $105.88 as of 12:04 p.m. EDT (1604 GMT).
Brent had been bouncing between $99 and $105 for the past eight sessions.
U.S. oil was up 98 cents at $97.67 a barrel, after rising to a high of $98.25.
President Barack Obama authorized the shipment of U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time after the White House said it had proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against rebels.
U.S. crude also garnered some strength from data earlier this week that showed stronger-than-expected retail sales and a fall in weekly jobless claims. Investor sentiment that the Federal Reserve will continue its bond-buying program also supported prices.
U.S. gasoline futures were at their highest level in close to a month at $2.91 per gallon, following a rise on Thursday. Brokers said funds got caught short trading gasoline and needed to buy back contracts to cover positions.
Heating oil futures were trading at their highest since April 4 at $2.98.
OPEC and the U.S. Energy Information Administration cut their global oil demand growth forecasts on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the International Energy Agency said modest economic growth was limiting global oil demand, and some developed economies would see declines in oil consumption this year.
The dollar remained close to a four-month low hit on Thursday against a basket of currencies, lending support to oil prices.
(Additional reporting by Manash Goswami; Editing by David Goodman, Keiron Henderson and Dale Hudson)