LONDON : World oil prices rose sharply on Wednesday as traders set aside demand concerns after a raft of weak global economic data, and digested the latest update on American energy stockpiles, analysts said. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June jumped $1.31 to $101.62 per barrel in late afternoon deals in London.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for June, leapt $1.81 to $90.99 a barrel."Crude oil squeezed higher today as investors shrugged off demand concerns after the release of some more disappointing economic data," said analyst.

 Fawad Razaqzada at trading firm GFT Markets.

"We had already seen poor manufacturing PMI readings from the likes of China, Germany and the US yesterday while the other economic pointers of late have not been great either.

"Keeping this trend intact today saw the latest German Ifo Business Climate and both measures of US durable gods orders miss expectations.

"Yet, crude oil traders showed little desire to push prices down."

The US government's Department of Energy announced Wednesday that American oil stockpiles increased by 900,000 barrels in the week ending April 19.

That was less than market expectations for a gain of 1.2 million barrels, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

"Prices did not ease much on the back of this, in part due the fact a higher build (increase) was priced in," added analyst Razaqzada.

"The stage looks set for a run towards the $91.50-$92.00 area where I expect the sellers to make their presence felt once again."

Sentiment was also boosted by rising stock markets on Wednesday.

Europe's main stock markets extended gains on growing expectations of an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank following poor German economic data.

German business confidence took a tumble this month, according to data Wednesday, supporting speculation of a possible interest rate cut by the European Central Bank, analysts said.

The Ifo economic institute's closely watched business climate index fell to 104.4 points in April from 106.7 points in March.

That was a bigger drop than expected: analysts had been pencilling in only a very slight decrease this month to 106.2 points.

Oil had slumped last week, with Brent striking a nine-month low on weaker-than-expected Chinese economic growth data, while sentiment was also hit on Tuesday by weak manufacturing data in the Asian powerhouse nation.

Prices have since recovered on talk of an output cut from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which will hold a regular production meeting on May 31.