Updated from 5:14 a.m. EST

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Oil prices Thursday were up 7 cents Thursday but off the highs, after U.S. stockpiles declined for the fourth straight week.

Crude oil prices for February delivery were trading at $79.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil's high for the day is $79.98 a barrel.

Santa Claus Visiting Oil

var config = new Array(); config<BRACKET>"videoId"</BRACKET> = 59689195001; config<BRACKET>"playerTag"</BRACKET> = "TSCM Embedded Video Player"; config<BRACKET>"autoStart"</BRACKET> = false; config<BRACKET>"preloadBackColor"</BRACKET> = "#FFFFFF"; config<BRACKET>"useOverlayMenu"</BRACKET> = "false"; config<BRACKET>"width"</BRACKET> = 265; config<BRACKET>"height"</BRACKET> = 255; config<BRACKET>"playerId"</BRACKET> = 1243645856; createExperience(config, 8);

The contract closed Wednesday up by 41 cents to $79.28 a barrel, after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude supplies shrank by 1.5 million barrels last week, less than the expected drop of 2.2 million barrels.

TheStreet Recommends

Oil prices have more than doubled from their lows of a year ago. Many analysts expect crude oil in 2010 will average between $75 and $85.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

Follow TheStreet.com on

Twitter

and become a fan on

Facebook.

Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.