Oil rose this evening as stock markets climbed, but concerns about the strength of demand and a jump in US crude stockpiles kept gains in check.

US crude rose $1.03 to $70.48 a barrel, having fallen for the previous four sessions. London Brent crude rose 56 cents to $73.02.

Traders said oil prices continued to track the fortunes of equity markets as they looked for positive signs from the wider economy.

US oil data from the Energy Information Administration showed crude stocks in the world's largest energy consumer rose by 2.5 million barrels last week, against expectations for just a 700,000 barrel rise.

Petrol demand in the US was also steady compared with last year, when prices were almost twice as high at the pumps, illustrating the impact the recession has had on consumption despite lower prices. More than one in 10 barrels of crude oil end up in the US petrol pool.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said global oil demand growth will be lower in 2010 than previously forecast, with little evidence a recovery is underway yet.

The Paris-based agency, adviser to 28 industrialised nations, said global oil demand was now seen recovering by just 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2010, having fallen by 2.3 million bpd this year as the economic crisis curbed consumption. World oil demand hit a peak of 86.5 million bpd in 2007.

'Evidence of a bottoming out of the recession is still a bit patchy. The latest data on industrial production for some of the larger countries remains negative,' David Martin, analyst at the IEA, told Reuters.