Wednesday, 6 Jan 2010 Light, sweet crude for February delivery settled 26 cents, or 0.3%, higher at $81.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. While oil prices continued to grow Tuesday, the rally flattened out as equities declined and USD gained versus most of its major counterparts. Light volume trading ahead of the release of today's U.S. crude and fuel inventory data added to the decline in momentum. The report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 15:30 GMT.

Total stockpiles declined to their lowest levels since March last week as demand improved, driven up by an increase in heating oil consumption due to exceptionally cold weather in most of the U.S, the world's largest oil consumer. This week's data is expected to show a drop in stockpiles, and might lead to a reversal for the current rally in oil prices.

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