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US cold hikes oil prices above US$94 a barrel

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--The price of oil climbed above US$94 a barrel Wednesday ahead of a weekly U.S. stockpile report and with U.S. demand for heating fuel expected to rise amid severe cold weather.

Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery was up 39 cents to US$94.06 a barrel at midafternoon Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 24 cents to end at US$93.67 on Tuesday.

A deep freeze has spread from the U.S. Midwest to the East and South, setting record low temperatures from Boston to Birmingham, and killing 21 people. The Midwest and the East experienced temperatures colder than much of Antarctica, supporting oil prices as demand for heating fuel rises.

Analysts said investors are also waiting for the U.S. government's crude inventory report that is likely to show a fall in stockpiles last week, indicating stronger demand.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up 18 cents to US$107.53.

In other energy futures trading:

— Wholesale gasoline dipped 0.1 cent to US$2.678 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 3 cents to US$4.329 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil was up 0.4 cent to US$2.964 a gallon.

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