Oil prices rise amid expectations of higher China demand

NEW YORK, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices climbed on Friday, driven by optimism over demand in China.

File photo: AFP

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery gained 98 cents, or 1.22 percent, to settle at 81.31 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for March delivery added 1.47 dollars, or 1.71 percent, to settle at 87.63 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

"Oil markets continue to move higher as traders bet on rising China demand," Vladimir Zernov, market analyst with market information supplier FX Empire, said on Friday.

"Next week, China's demand for oil will rise as the country would celebrate the Chinese New Year, which is bullish for oil markets," he said.

Traders continued to digest data on U.S. fuel stockpiles.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday that the country's commercial crude oil inventories jumped by 8.4 million barrels during the week ending Jan. 13. On average, analysts polled by S&P Global Commodity Insights had expected U.S. supplies to show a rise of 0.9 million barrels.

According to the EIA, total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.5 million barrels last week, while distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.9 million barrels.

For the week, the WTI rose 1.8 percent, and Brent advanced 2.8 percent.