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Oil prices increased today after US data showed initial jobless claims dropped to their lowest level in the fourth-quarter, and the country’s economic growth was slightly faster than previously estimated, which signaled strong demand ahead for crude oil.

Brent crude was up by four cents to $107.87 a barrel, while US oil rose by 28 cents to settle at $101.56 a barrel, reported Reuters.

Crude prices rose after the US Commerce Department data showed the American economy grew by 2.6% in the fourth-quarter of 2013, which is the fastest growth in three years.

American consumer spending grew at a brisk 3.3%, reflecting increased spending on healthcare and utilities.

The refinery maintenance season has come to an end, which increased stockpiles of oil in the US Gulf Coast due to the cut in crude consumption.

Geopolitical tensions have also supported oil prices, as growing unrest over Ukraine looks to threaten the supply from Russia.

"American consumer spending grew at a brisk 3.3%, reflecting increased spending on healthcare and utilities."

The US and the European Union (EU) have agreed to work together to prepare tougher sanctions against Russia and to make Europe less dependent on Russian gas.

Supply concerns from Libya and Nigeria have lent further support to crude where oil theft is likely to push Nigeria off its spot as top African crude oil exporter, as May’s export figures are expected to drop to their lowest since records began in 2009.

Libyan National Oil Corp said that protesters have blocked a pipeline carrying approximately 30,000bpd of oil condensate from the south-western al-Wafa oilfield to the Mellitah export port.


Image: The US economy grew slightly faster than estimated in the fourth-quarter of 2013. Photo: courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut.

Energy