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Oil prices rise modestly on US Fed support

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NEW YORK, Jan 30 AFP

January 31 2013, 09:07AM

World oil prices have risen modestly after the Federal Reserve maintained its ultra-loose monetary policy to support the US economy, the world's biggest crude oil consumer.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March, settled at $US97.94 a barrel, up 37 cents from Tuesday's close.

In London trading, Brent North Sea crude for March rose 54 cents to finish at $US114.90 a barrel.

Earlier on Wednesday, WTI reached $US98.24 - the highest level since mid-September - and Brent hit $US115.24 - its highest price since mid-October.

The New York benchmark briefly fell into negative territory after the publication of the government's weekly report on US petroleum supplies, showing an unexpectedly big jump in crude oil stocks.

The Department of Energy said crude oil increased by 5.9 million barrels, double the expectations, in the week ending January 25.

Crude oil "recovered back into the black as a weaker dollar index gave a boost to prices," Briefing.com said in a market note.

A weaker US unit makes dollar-priced crude more attractive to buyers using stronger currencies.

Sentiment improved late in the session after the Federal Reserve wrapped up a two-day meeting.

The Fed, as expected, continued its ultra-low interest rates and $US85 billion a month asset purchases program to support the US economic recovery.