Oil prices rose in early trading on Wednesday after a report that U.S. fuel inventories may have fallen for a fifth straight week, but contracts remained near the $50 (£39.37) marker where many traders currently see fair value for crude.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $49.22 (£38.75) per barrel at 0649 GMT, up 53 cents, or 1.1 per cent, from their last settlement.
In international oil markets, benchmark Brent crude was trading at $51.38 (£40.45) per barrel, up 51 cents, or 1.0 per cent.
Traders said the higher prices were largely a result of a report by the American Petroleum Institute (API) late on Tuesday showing that U.S. crude inventories likely fell for a fifth straight week, declining by 7.6 million barrels.
“All eyes now turn to the EIA crude inventory numbers tonight,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at brokerage OANDA in Singapore, adding that another confirmed draw in crude stocks would likely push WTI over $50 (£39.36) per barrel.
The U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) will report official stockpile numbers on Wednesday, although analysts polled by Reuters expect the EIA to report a stock build of 2.6 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 30.