West Texas Intermediate is poised for the fourth annual increase in five years amid forecasts crude inventories shrank for a fifth week in the U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer. Futures were little changed in New York after declining from the first settlement above $100 a barrel since October. Crude stockpiles probably dropped by 2.9 million barrels last week as refineries operated at the highest rate in five months and oil companies pared inventories to reduce year-end taxes, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Brent is little changed this year after four consecutive annual increases. U.S. demand is “underpinned by the improving economy” and “should remain higher year-on-year,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil market strategist at Energy Aspects Ltd., a consulting company based in London. WTI for February delivery dropped 19 cents to $99.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 9:18 a.m. […]