Oil prices climbed for a third day running on Wednesday as traders awaited the latest snapshot of US crude inventories. New York\'s main contract, light sweet crude WTI crude for delivery in February, advanced 51 cents to $97.75 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for February gained 27 cents to $107 in London midday deals. Crude inventory data due on Wednesday from the US Department of Energy should provide clues about the strength of demand in the United States, the biggest oil-consuming nation. Analysts expect the crude stockpiles to have fallen by 2.4 million barrels last week and distillates -- which include heating fuel -- to have dropped by 300,000 barrels, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires. Promising economic news from the US and Europe had sent oil prices surging more than $3.0 on Tuesday, while tensions over major crude-producer Iran added to the buying, traders said.