US oil price eases after three days of gains

US oil prices pulled back modestly Thursday after three straight days of gains, partly hurt by continued problems at the Seaway pipeline, but closed out January with a solid gain of more than $5 a barrel.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery, lost 45 cents from Wednesday to settle at $97.49 a barrel.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for March gained 55 cents a barrel to $115.55.

The problems at the Seaway pipeline connecting the Cushing, Oklahoma, terminal to the Texas coastline has choked outflow from the Cushing depot even as production flows in, according to oil market analyst Andy Lipow.

Oil prices overall remained fairly firm despite the release of US data Wednesday showing the economy contracted 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter last year.

Comments from the Federal Reserve that the weakness was due to "transitory" factors appeared to assure markets that US growth remained solid if not outstanding.