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Crude oil futures settle higher on Friday

Crude oil futures settled higher on Friday after data from US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed a much less than expected decline in US crude stockpiles last week. The EIA's weekly report showed crude inventories in US decreased by 0.046 million barrels in the week ended December 21, much less than expected. In the previous week, oil stockpiles saw a drop of 0.5 million barrels. Meanwhile, gasoline inventories rose by 3.003 million barrels last week, compared to expectations of a marginal increase of 0.03 million barrels. Distillate stockpiles were up by 0.002 million barrels in the week.

Benchmark crude oil futures for February surged 72 cents or 1.6 percent to settle $45.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. February Brent crude gained 4 cents or less than 0.1 percent to settle at $52.20 a barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange.

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