Oil at 7-Week High

Oil at 7-Week High Oil at 7-Week High

Brent crude oil hit its highest level since early January on Friday and was on track for its first weekly gain in a month as strong US gasoline demand and supply disruptions outweighed concerns about a fundamental glut.

Brent futures were trading at $36.63 a barrel, up $1.34 from their last close, but rose to $36.84 earlier in the session, the highest since Jan. 5. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up $1.05 cents at $34.12, Reuters reported.

The gains would mark the third consecutive daily increase for Brent and the fifth for US benchmark WTI.

Strong gasoline demand in the US, and an upward revision to the country's economic growth for the fourth quarter, helped boost expectations of oil consumption.

But supply disruptions in Iraq and Nigeria that have taken more than 800,000 barrels per day of oil off the market were also underpinning prices.

Most analysts said the oversupplied market would not begin to draw down stocks until early next year, but the disruptions and demand helped give a near-term boost to markets that are grappling with crude production that is exceeding demand by 1 million to 2 million barrels per day.

Data from the US Energy Information Administration showed gasoline inventories falling last week for the first time since early November, suggesting that consumers could gobble up more of the world's oil products than expected.