On Wednesday, as investors looked ahead to fresh weekly data on U.S. commercial crude inventories to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer and how fast output levels will continue to rise, crude prices were little changed in early action, steadying below the more than three-year highs reached the previous session.
By 4:10AM ET (0810GMT), New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures tacked on 2 cents to $67.72 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark rose to $69.55 last week, the highest since Nov. 28, 2014.
Meantime, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., ticked up 5 cents to $73.91 a barrel. The global benchmark climbed as high as $75.47 in the last session, a level not seen since Nov. 27, 2014.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its official weekly oil supplies report for the week ended April 20 at 10:30AM ET (1430GMT), among forecasts for an oil-stock drop of around 2.0 million barrels.
Analysts also forecast a fall of 625,000 barrels for gasoline stockpiles, while distillate inventories are expected to drop by 861,000 barrels.
The American Petroleum Institute, after markets closed Tuesday, said that U.S. oil inventories rose by roughly 1.1 million barrels last week.
The API report also showed a drop of 2.7 million barrels in gasoline stocks, while inventories of distillates fell by 1.9 million barrels. There are often sharp divergences between the official figures from EIA and the API estimates.
After U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to try to resolve differences on Iran, easing concerns that the United States might reinstate sanctions against Tehran, oil prices settled sharply lower on Tuesday.
That forced some traders to abandon their bullish bets on new U.S. sanctions against Iran limiting the country’s oil output. The Trump administration has until May 12 to decide whether it will extend the sanctions waiver linked to Iran’s nuclear deal.
Yet, underlying sentiment in the oil market remained positive among ongoing investor expectations that OPEC-led supply cuts would continue to rid the market of excess supplies.
Concerns about supply disruptions in key oil-producing nations and geopolitical tension in the Middle East and have also added to the bullish environment.
But a rise in U.S. drilling for new production marked one of the few factors tamping back crude in an otherwise positive sentiment.
In other energy trading, heating oil was steady at $2.128 a gallon while gasoline futures were flat at $2.093 a gallon. Natural gas futures shed 0.3% to $2.804 per million British thermal units. /investing.com