Oil prices gained today on growing concerns regarding anticipated key data from the world’s biggest energy consumer China, as well as over the outcome of European Central Bank’s (ECB) decision meeting to be held this week.

The price of Brent crude and US crude jumped by two cents each, to $111.42 and $93.21 per barrel respectively, reported Reuters.

China is set to issue its trade data for December on Thursday and the fourth-quarter economic growth figures on 18 January, which investors are hoping will show that China is slowly and steadily making progress towards recovery.

On the same day, ECB policymakers will meet up to discuss whether to cut rates in 2013, following contraction in the regional economy for three quarters in 2012.

In the US, Federal Reserve policymakers are expected to meet in late January to discuss whether or not the bank will stop its quantitative easing in 2013, rather than in 2014.

The world’s top oil consumer is also expected to issue its inventory data on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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By GlobalData

In December 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that oil demand will increase by 865,000 barrels a day, while supply from non-OPEC countries will increase by 890,000 barrels per day in 2013.

Increases in both oil demand and supply is likely to be influenced by a spurt in US shale oil production.

A preliminary Reuters poll has forecast that the reduction of imports by Gulf Coast refiners for year-end tax purposes may have decreased commercial crude oil stockpiles by 300,000 barrels on average in the week ending 4 January 2012.

Image: European Central Bank headquarters, Frankfurt, Germany. Photo courtesy of Eric Chan.