Oil traded at more than $71 a barrel in New York, poised for a fourth weekly gain on optimism at the first signs of economic recovery.

Crude oil for September 2009 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange traded at $71.69 a barrel, down $0.25, or 0.4%, at 11.05am in Singapore.

The contract dropped $0.03 to settle at $71.94 on 6 August. Futures have gained 61% in 2009 and increased 20% in the past four weeks.

This week oil is set to increase 3.2% as US equities rise and the dollar weakened, boosting investor demand for commodities priced in the US currency.

Oil is trading at less than half its record high of $147.27 a barrel reached in July 2008.

The US Energy Department said that US crude oil inventories grew more than forecast last week as the average refinery throughput rate declined to its lowest in more than two months. Stockpiles are 10% higher than the five-year average level.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) will boost crude oil shipments for the first time since June, according to consultant Oil Movements.

Opec is likely to increase deliveries by 0.4% in the four weeks ending 22 August, the tanker tracker said, as higher prices encourage members to exceed output targets.

Brent crude oil for September 2009 settlement traded at $74.55 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange, down $0.28, or 0.4%, at 11.07am in Singapore. Prices dropped $0.68, or 0.9%, to $74.83 on 5 August.