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Oil prices rise modestly on Fed support

World oil prices rose modestly Wednesday after the Federal Reserve maintained its ultra-loose monetary policy to support the US economy, the world's biggest crude oil consumer.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March, settled at $97.94 a barrel, up 37 cents from Tuesday's close.

In London trading, Brent North Sea crude for March rose 54 cents to finish at $114.90 a barrel.

Earlier Wednesday, WTI reached $98.24 -- the highest level since mid-September -- and Brent hit $115.24 -- its highest price since mid-October.

The New York benchmark briefly fell into negative territory after the publication of the government's weekly report on US petroleum supplies, showing an unexpectedly big jump in crude oil stocks.

The Department of Energy said crude oil increased by 5.9 million barrels, double the expectations, in the week ending January 25.

Crude oil "recovered back into the black as a weaker dollar index gave a boost to prices," said in a market note.

A weaker US unit makes dollar-priced crude more attractive to buyers using stronger currencies.

Sentiment improved late in the session after the Federal Reserve wrapped a two-day meeting. The Fed, as expected, continued its ultra-low interest rates and $85 billion a month asset purchases program to support the US economic recovery.