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Oil price edges up on higher U.S. demand

LONDON - The price of oil edged further above $94 a barrel on Thursday on expectations of improved demand in the U.S.

By midday in Europe, the benchmark U.S. crude oil contract for February delivery was up 16 cents at $94.33 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged $1.58 to settle at $94.17 in New York on Wednesday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 44 cents at $105.83.

The U.S. Energy Department reported this week that oil supplies fell more than expected by 7.7 million barrels last week, the seventh straight decline. It was sharply above market expectations of a 1.6 million barrels decline.

The news pushed oil above $94 a barrel on Wednesday for the first time in two weeks. Oil prices have been weak this year amid concerns that ample crude supplies could put pressure on prices.

On Thursday, OPEC said in a report that it expects global demand for oil to increase by around 1 million barrels a day, up from an increase of 900,000 barrels a day in 2013.

Supply is also on the rise, the organization said. It revised up slightly its estimates for oil supplies from non-OPEC countries for both 2013 and 2014.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

- Wholesale gasoline was down 1.4 cents at $2.6124 a gallon.

- Natural gas rose 11.7 cents to $4.442 per 1,000 cubic feet.

- Heating oil shed 1.26 cents to $2.967 a gallon.

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