Updated from 5:14 a.m. EST



) -- 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.

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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.

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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.

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