Oil prices rose on Friday in a session that saw short covering ahead of the January contract expiration, while upbeat U.S. inventory data continued to support the commodity. In the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for delivery in February traded up 5.20% at $57.19 a barrel during U.S. trading, up from a session low of $54.43 a barrel and off a high of $57.28 a barrel. The February contract settled down 4.28% at $54.36 a barrel on Thursday. Support for the commodity was seen at $54.28 a barrel, Thursday’s low, and resistance at $59.27 a barrel, Wednesday’s high. Oil prices rallied on Friday due to short covering taking place just before the holidays as well as on residual applause this week’s U.S. supply report. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 0.847 million barrels in the week ending Dec, 12. The draw fell short of expectations for a decline of 2.36 million barrels, though oil prices shot up as investors viewed an earlier American Petroleum Institute report revealing an unexpected 1.9 million barrel increase in U.S. oil stockpiles as an anomaly. Separately, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for January delivery were up 4.03% at US$61.66 a barrel, while the spread between Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $4.47.