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Oil prices edge higher after US energy report

World oil prices rose modestly on Wednesday after a closely-watched US oil report suggested severe winter weather across large parts of the country was pushing up demand for heating oil.

NEW YORK: World oil prices rose modestly on Wednesday after a closely-watched US oil report suggested severe winter weather across large parts of the country was pushing up demand for heating oil.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in March finished the session at $97.38 a barrel, up 19 cents from Tuesday's close.

Brent North Sea crude for March rose 47 cents to settle at $106.25 a barrel in London trade.

"US crude has been supported today by the colder weather, boosting heating oil demand," said Inenco analyst Lucy Sidebotham.

US commercial crude reserves rose for the third straight week, by 400,000 barrels in the week ending January 31, the US Department of Energy (DoE) reported Wednesday.

The increase was much smaller than the average analyst estimate of 2.2 million barrels.

But traders focused on the fourth straight week of declines in distillates, which include diesel and heating oil.

Distillates fell by 2.4 million barrels, more than the 2.0 million barrels estimated.

Bob Yawger of Mizuho Securities noted heating fuel stocks were at their lowest level since at least 1990.

Stockpiles at the trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, sank by 1.5 million barrels, the DoE said.

"Lower stocks in Cushing are helping support US oil prices currently," said Natixis oil analyst Deshpande Abhishek.

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