NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - U.S. oil settled at a four-month high on Wednesday supported by expectations that one-time landlocked oil at the U.S. contract's benchmark delivery point would continue to flow to Gulf Coast refineries after government data showed a large drain in supplies there.
The U.S. oil futures contract traded above $100 per barrel for the entire session for the first time since Oct. 18, and settled at its highest point since then, after data showed TransCanada Corp's Gulf Coast pipeline began in earnest to drain oil from benchmark delivery point Cushing, Oklahoma.
U.S. oil stranded at Cushing has depressed prices for the last three years.
Doubts over whether that oil would be consumed by refiners or whether the pipeline would simply displace the glut capped a gain in prices after the same data showed a larger than expected build in overall crude inventories. Expectations for dwindling seasonal demand for heating fuels also helped curb gains.
Demand for crude was also expected to decrease as refiners head into maintenance season.
Brent ended moderately higher, pressured as traders sold the European benchmark and bought WTI after the data were released. Brent drew support from a stronger 2014 oil-demand forecast from OPEC and Chinese data released late Tuesday that showed oil imports hit record highs.
The closely traded Brent/WTI spread dipped below $8 at one point and narrowed to settle at a four-month low at $8.42.
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