Oil prices went up today after the US released positive economic data, while indications from Europe that the global economy is improving also supported the rise.

Brent crude price increased by one cent to $116.53 per barrel, while US crude also shed nine cents to trade at $96.55, reported Reuters.

According to analysts, Brent may rise to $120 per barrel in February, while US oil may continue to stay under a little pressure.

The American Petroleum Institute has released its data which showed that crude stockpiles increased by 3.6 million barrels last week, more than the 2.8 million barrel rise anticipated by analysts.

The US commercial crude oil stockpiles also jumped last week as a result of higher imports and a reduction in refining activity.

Investors now look out eagerly for the weekly inventory report that will be released by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration in the later part of Wednesday.

US crude slipped by more than one percent this week, against a mostly stable Brent, due to concerns over surplus supply at Cushing, Oklahoma.

The crisis-hit eurozone economy seemed to have made a slight turnaround, after Markit’s Eurozone Composite PMI increased in January to a ten-month high of 48.6 from 47.2 in December.

The PMI, which is still under the 50 mark that divides growth and contraction, has increased for the third straight month.

"The American Petroleum Institute has released its data which showed that crude stockpiles increased by 3.6 million barrels."

It would be too fast, however, to say that the entire eurozone is progressing, as the data released by France, Spain and Italy is less encouraging, although Germany presented strong data.

Investors will also keep a close watch on the European Central Bank’s meeting on Thursday and China’s trade numbers that will be out on Friday, to get an indication on the health of the global economy.

The oil markets are also observing developments in the Middle East, where sanctions-hit Iran has received many new tankers from Chinese shipyards, which will provide the country with more flexibility to sustain exports.

An Iranian official’s statement that the West’s main objective in further discussion on Tehran’s nuclear programme, which was announced on 26 February, was only to undermine the Islamic republic, has deviated the hopes of progress.

Image: US commercial crude oil stockpiles saw a jump last week, supported by higher imports. Photo courtesy of Lars Christopher Nøttaasen.