Oil prices rise on GDP data, heating demand

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US oil prices Thursday rose to their highest level of 2014 on solid US economic growth data.

NEW YORK (AFP) – US oil prices Thursday rose to their highest level of 2014 on solid US economic growth data and higher demand for heating oil due to cold weather.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery jumped 87 cents to $98.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

European benchmark Brent oil for March delivery gained 10 cents to $107.95 a barrel in London.

Thursday’s rise came after data showed US gross domestic product grew 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter, above the 3.0 percent expected by analysts.

Analysts were especially cheered by a 3.3 percent rise in  consumer spending, the sharpest quarterly growth in three years.

“US GDP figures boosted demand expectations of the world’s biggest oil consumer,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at traders CMC Markets UK.

Matt Smith, a commodity analyst at Schneider Electric, also pointed to the “ongoing polar conditions” in the US as a bullish factor for oil.

Smith noted that home heating oil prices rose 1.1 percent Thursday, lending support to crude.

“You’re seeing US markets rally today, not only on GDP data, but on the potential for ongoing higher demand for heating oil,” Smith said.

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