Updated from 8:37 a.m. EST

Oil prices pushed higher after the Energy Department released a report on U.S. fuel inventories that contained few surprises.

Crude oil for January delivery was recently up 74 cents to $42.20 after beginning the session at its lowest level in more than three months. Still, the oil contract has lost about a quarter of its value since peaking at $55.17 on Oct. 26.

For the week ended Dec. 3, the government reported a 1.4 million barrel increase in U.S. distillate stocks, the category of fuel that includes heating oil. Analysts had been forecasting a 1.5 million-barrel build.

The same report showed gas stocks climbing by 2.4 million barrels and crude stocks rising by 600,000 barrels in the week.

The data lifted crude from below $41 a barrel and brought the contract's eight-session decline to roughly 15%.

On Friday, OPEC oil ministers will meet in Cairo amid growing calls among members to rein in production. Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told


"We're going to evaluate the levels of overproduction and, if needed, we're going to call for quotas to be respected again."

The cartel's current output limit is 27 million barrels a day.