Updated from 1:35 a.m. EST
Oil prices closed higher for a fourth day Friday with the benchmark crude stuck in the middle of their recent trading range.
The March futures contract added 6 cents to $47.16 in Nymex floor trading, after a 3% jump Thursday triggered by the International Energy Agency's forecast for increased worldwide demand in 2005,
The benchmark U.S. crude has traded between $45 and almost $50 a barrel for most of the new year. Given that, prices remain some 15% below their record high of more than $55 touched in late October.
Energy Department inventory data earlier this week were surprisingly bullish for prices at a time when traders were beginning to factor in the end of the peak heating oil season, which usually puts downward pressure on prices.
Traders also appear convinced that OPEC has no immediate intention to cut production for a second time this year to support prices, as long as they remain comfortably above $40, what is now thought to be its rough target price.