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Crude oil prices rise in upbeat start to 2014

LONDON--Global crude oil prices edged higher on Thursday as investors anticipated upbeat U.S. stockpiles data and grew more optimistic about the world's top economy, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude for February added 30 cents to US$111.10 a barrel nearing midday in London.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in February, won just 29 cents to US$98.71 per barrel.

Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at consultancy firm EY, said prices were buoyed by “signs of revival in the U.S. economy.”

Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, said investors were looking ahead to the release of U.S. stockpiles data on Friday, with thin Asian trade due to the closure of Japanese financial markets.

The report, usually released on Wednesday, has been postponed due to the New Year's Day holiday.

According to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, the average forecast is that crude oil supplies fell 2.2 million barrels last week.

Investors are also monitoring the situation in crude producer Iran after the IRNA news agency on Wednesday said experts from Tehran and world powers have chosen January 20 to begin implementing a deal on Tehran's nuclear program.

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