US oil traded near $49 a barrel as investors await U.S. data following a report inventory unexpectedly expanded last week.
Futures were little changed in New York after losing 2 percent Tuesday, the first drop in seven sessions. Inventories rose by 1.78 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report. Nationwide stockpiles fell for a fifth week. OPEC output climbed in July as Libya boosted supply.
Oil in the U.S. climbed above $50 a barrel this week for the first time since May amid optimism curbs by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are rebalancing the market and promises of deeper export cuts by Saudi Arabia. While U.S. stockpiles have dropped during a period of strong seasonal demand, supplies remain about 90 million barrels above the five-year average.
“The focus shifts to the EIA statistics, where most of the market participants are expecting another large draw, despite the API forecast,” said Jan Edelmann, a Hamburg-based analyst at HSH Nordbank AG, referring to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which is due to release the latest data on Wednesday.
West Texas Intermediate for September delivery traded 6 cents higher at $49.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2:01 p.m. London time. Total volume traded was about 18 percent above the 100-day average. The contract lost $1.01 to $49.16 on Tuesday.
Brent for October settlement rose 19 cents to $51.97 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices fell 94 cents, or 1.8 percent, on Tuesday. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $2.57 to October-delivery WTI.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles declined by 4.83 million barrels last week, the API said, according to people familiar with the data. Nationwide crude inventories probably fell by 3.1 million barrels.
OPEC output in July rose by 210,000 barrels a day from June to 32.87 million barrels a day. The shale surge that’s tied down global oil prices shows no signs of abating as four of the biggest U.S. drillers said they’re not backing away from lofty production targets for 2017. China’s crude imports may rise to 400 million tons this year, with purchases by teapot refiners climbing to 100 million tons, Wang Pei, deputy general manager at Unipec’s research and strategy department, said at a conference in Beijing.