West Texas Intermediate oil futures edged lower on Wednesday, amid speculation weekly supply data due later in the session will show U.S. crude inventories rose to the highest level on record last week.
Wednesday’s government report was expected to show that U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose by 5.1 million barrels last week, while gasoline stockpiles were forecast to decrease by 1.6 million barrels.
After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. crude inventories increased by 4.8 million barrels in the week ended March 20.
The report also showed that gasoline stockpiles fell by 641,000 barrels, while distillate stocks decreased by 2.6 million barrels.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 458.5 million barrels as of last week, the most in at least 80 years, underling concerns over a supply glut.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for May delivery shed 36 cents, or 0.77%, to trade at $47.15 a barrel during European morning hours.
A day earlier, Nymex oil futures hit $48.56, the most since March 13, before ending at $47.51, up 6 cents, or 0.13%.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for May delivery tacked on 5 cents, or 0.09%, to trade at $55.16 a barrel.
On Tuesday, Brent touched an intraday peak of $56.79, the highest since March 13, before settling at $55.11.
London-traded Brent futures remained supported amid indications the economic recovery in the euro zone is gaining traction, adding to signs that the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing is stimulating the real economy.
U.S. oil futures edge lower ahead of supply report
Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $8.01 a barrel, compared to $7.60 by close of trade on Tuesday.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.3% to 97.14 early on Wednesday.
The greenback remained under pressure amid uncertainty over the path of U.S. monetary policy after the Federal Reserve downgraded its forecasts for growth and inflation and lowered its interest rate projections last week.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on durable goods orders for February as investors look for more clues over the strength of the economy.
Data on Tuesday showed that U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2% last month, in line with market expectations. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs was up 1.7% from the same month last year, the largest increase since November.
A separate report showed that U.S. new home sales jumped 7.8% to an annual unit rate of 539,000 last month, the highest level since February 2008.
In addition, the preliminary reading of the U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 55.3 this month, the highest level since October, from 55.1 in February.