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US oil shrugs off stockpile rise, ends at near 4-month peak

A construction worker sandblasts a section of pipeline outside Watford City, N.D.
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A construction worker sandblasts a section of pipeline outside Watford City, N.D.

U.S. oil rose on Wednesday but government data showing a larger-than-expected build in crude inventories pulled futures off the highs, with expectations for dwindling seasonal demand for heating fuels also helping curb the gain.

Brent, though moderately higher, was pressured as traders sold the European benchmark and bought WTI after the U.S. Department of Energy reported a large draw in stocks at the U.S. futures contract benchmark delivery point.

Brent drew support from a stronger 2014 oil-demand forecast from OPEC and Chinese data released late Tuesday that showed oil imports hit record highs.

The closely traded Brent/WTI spread dipped below $8 on Tuesday, nearing to a four-month low, and was last at $8.37 a barrel.

Brent crude for March delivery was up 10 cents under $109. U.S. crude rose 43 cents to settle at $100.37, about $1 from the intraday high but its highest settlement since October 18 .

U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels, more than expected in a Reuters poll, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed. The build came in spite of a 2.6 million barrel draw on stocks at the U.S. oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, as TransCanada Corp's Gulf Coast pipeline begins to drain the glut there.

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