Oil prices strengthened during last week's trading session, and a barrel of crude oil reached as high as $92.37. Crude began last week's trading around $88.00 a barrel, and gained over 400 pips. Crude is currently trading near $91.50 a barrel.

After seeing a minor technical correction on Thursday, crude climbed once again on Friday after U.S. Retail Sales and Industrial Production rose in December, indicating that fuel demand in the world's largest energy consumer is likely to strengthen. In addition, estimates that Chinese consumption of energy will increase by 4.8% in 2011, after rising 11% in 2010, have also supported oil prices.

As for the following week, traders are advised to follow the leading economic releases from the U.S. and the euro-zone, as they usually have a large impact on crude prices. Traders should also focus on the U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report, which is scheduled for Thursday, as this release tends to have an immediate impact on the market.