* US crude stocks up, products draw down - EIA
* IEA cuts demand outlook, contrasts with OPEC, EIA
(Rewrites throughout, updates with settlement prices, quote)
By Gabriel Debenedetti
NEW YORK, Feb 13 Brent crude oil prices rose
slightly on Wednesday to close near $119 a barrel and remain
close to a nine-month high, though gains were capped by a rise
in U.S. crude oil inventories and as the International Energy
Agency (IEA) trimmed its demand outlook.
The rise in inventories in the world's largest oil consumer
weighed on U.S. crude oil prices, which closed lower and just
above $97 a barrel, down more than $1 from the day's peak.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude stocks
rose by 560,000 barrels in the week ending Feb. 8, though the
gain was slightly less than expected by analysts, while
stockpiles of gasoline and distillates fell, according to its
"The underlying supply and demand fundamental picture really
hasn't changed. We have a lot of oil here in the United States,"
said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford,
March Brent futures settled 6 cents up at $118.72 a
barrel, having earlier touched a session high of $119.12. The
March Brent futures contract expires today. The April
contract finished up 13 cents at $117.88.
U.S. crude futures, which finished lower last week
for the first time in nine weeks, were down 50 cents at $97.01.
After narrowing in early trade, Brent's premium over U.S.
crude eventually widened to $22.11 a barrel. Brokers pointed to
technical resistance at the spread's 100-day moving average
around $20.68 as one reason for the reversal during Wednesday's
Brent was also supported by positive economic data as a
Reuters poll showed that the euro zone is slowly starting to
emerge from recession.
While Brent has risen by almost $10 a barrel since the
middle of January, boosted by signs of strong demand from China
and Saudi output cuts, the IEA on Wednesday said that the slow
pace of economic recovery would keep consumption in check.
In its monthly report, the agency trimmed its demand growth
forecast for 2013 by 90,000 barrels per day. That was in
contrast to both the EIA and the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC), which both raised their demand
growth forecasts on Tuesday.
Prices were supported by the IEA report on Wednesday stating
that Iranian oil exports will likely fall further this year as
the West tightens sanctions on Tehran. Exports from Iran have
already fallen to the lowest level in 30 years, the IEA said.
(Additional reporting by David Sheppard and Robert Gibbons in
New York, Simon Falush and Dasha Afanasieva in London; Editing
by William Hardy and Bob Burgdorfer)