U.S. crude futures hovered near three-week highs in early deals on Friday following a larger-than-forecast drop in U.S. distillate stocks, putting the contract on track for its biggest weekly gain since early December.
U.S. crude for March delivery was off 7 cents at $97.25 a barrel by 0051 GMT. It rose to as high as $97.84 on Thursday, its loftiest since Jan. 2. For the week, West Texas Intermediate crude has gained about 3 percent.
A larger-than-expected draw in U.S. distillate stocks caused by sustained cold aided WTI on Thursday. EIA data showing a 3.21-million-barrel draw on distillate stocks drove U.S. ultra low-sulfur diesel futures, or heating oil, to their highest price this year. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected only a 900,000-barrel draw.
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