NEW YORK, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices rose slightly Friday on signs of growing demand from the United States as its economic data came better than expected.
The Commerce Department said Friday that U.S. housing starts dropped 9.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999, 000 units. Although the drop was the largest since April 2013, the figure was moderately higher than the market consensus of 990,000.
Meanwhile, data from the Federal Reserve showed that U.S. industrial production climbed 0.3 percent in December after a revised 1 percent increase in November, in line with market forecasts.
Additionally, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading on consumer sentiment index unexpectedly dropped slightly in January, declining to 80.4 from 82.5 in the preceding month.
Traders believed that the economic data continues to signal a higher crude demand in the world's biggest oil consumer.
U.S. crude inventories fell 7.66 million barrels to 350.2 million last week, the least since March 2012, topping market expectation of a decrease of 1.3 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said in a report Wednesday.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose 41 cents to settle at 94.37 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for March delivery gained 73 cents to close at 106.48 dollars a barrel.