Crude prices rose Thursday as there were reports saying the world's largest oil producer of Saudi Arabia cut output last month and China's latest trade data came in supportive.
The reports, citing sources familiar with Saudi Arabia's oil output policy, said Saudi Arabia, also the world's largest oil exporter, slashed its crude oil production by nearly 5 percent in December to around 9 million barrels per day. This was more than 1 million bpd below its peak production seen last summer and the lowest level in 19 months.
Meanwhile, China's upbeat trade data boosted investors' risk appetite. According to a report released Thursday, China's exports jumped 14.1 percent year-on-year in December, far beyond markets' expectation and offering more positive signs of the economic growth outlook in China, the world's second largest oil consumer.
In Yemen, another important member on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the government and oil industry officials said a main crude export pipeline was blown up by unknown attackers, halting most of the country's oil outflows.
To add to the rising dynamic to oil markets, the dollar weakened on Thursday. A weaker dollar made the greenback- denominated oil more attractive to foreign investors.
On the economic front, U.S. initial jobless claims rose slightly by 4,000 last week, showing stable recovery pace in the job market.
The European Central Bank left its interest rates unchanged at record lows after it finished its monthly meeting on Thursday. ECB President Mario Draghi said the central bank expected the euro zone's economy to recover in late 2013.
The Bank of England also kept its easing monetary policies unchanged to offer support to the economy.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery added 72 cents, or 0. 77 percent, to settle at 93.82 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude for February delivery inched up 13 cents, or 0.12 percent, to close at 111.89 dollars a barrel.