Bouri Oilfield Libya
Global crude oil futures shoot up in the week ending 21 December. Reuters

Global crude oil futures shot up this week on signs that oil demand in the US, the world's largest oil consumer, could be strengthening.

February US crude oil contract gained 28 cents, or 0.3%, to finish at $99.32 a barrel on 20 December and prices jumped 2.5% for the week.

February Brent contract added $1.48, or 1.3%, to finish at $111.77 a barrel on 20 December and shot up 3.2% for the week.

Data from the US showed that the economic recovery had gathered steam. The world's leading economy expanded by 4.1% in the third quarter, stronger than the previously forecast 3.6% rate of growth.

Futures were also buoyed by upbeat data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The agency said US crude oil inventory fell for the third consecutive week during the week ended 13 December. The EIA also said the implied demand for petroleum products rose 13%, from the preceding week, to 21 million barrels a day, the highest level in almost six years.

Market players also digested the US Federal Reserve's decision to trim its bond buying stimulus as an indication that the US economy was improving, which in turn could boost US oil demand.

Meanwhile, Brent also drew support from supply disruptions in Opec-member Libya.

"We saw a sharp recovery in demand" for gasoline last week, said Tim Evans, analyst for Citi Futures Perspective.

"I think the prices can walk higher from here," he told the Wall Street Journal.

Libya Exports

Libya, which accounts for over 1.5% of global oil output, has stepped up fuel imports following the closure of its eastern oil terminals in July.

Protests, for more regional autonomy and a lion's share of Libya's oil income, have hampered oil production and exports from the country, which holds Africa's biggest crude reserves.

Around 85% of Libya's oil is exported to Europe and its biggest customer in the region is Italy.