The price of oil edged above $114 a barrel today despite ample stockpiles of crude amid signs of growth in the world's two largest economies.

Benchmark oil rose 29c to $96.24 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange

The contract gained 72c to finish at $95.95 a barrel on the Nymex last night.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up 32c at $113.60 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Recent optimism about improving economies in the US and China has helped support an upswing in oil prices. The US housing and jobs markets have shown improvement, while China's manufacturing output has been gaining steam.

The Energy Information Administration said yesterday that US oil supplies rose by 2.8 million barrels last week, more than analysts expected. That pushed oil stockpiles to 363.1 million barrels, up 8.5% from year-ago levels.

Oil prices also benefited from investors' confident mood, reflected by rising indexes on the main European stock markets and gains by the euro against the dollar.

A weaker dollar makes crude cheaper - and a more attractive investment - for traders using other currencies.