Crude prices were little changed in early action on Wednesday, steadying below the more than three-year highs reached the previous session, 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.
New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures tacked on 2 cents to $67.72 a barrel by 08:10GMT. The U.S. benchmark rose to $69.55 last week, the highest since Nov. 28, 2014.
Meanwhile, 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 14:30GMT, amid 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.
After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute 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 API estimates and the official figures from EIA.
In other energy trading, gasoline futures were flat at $2.093 a gallon, while heating oil was steady at $2.128 a gallon.
Natural gas futures shed 0.3% to $2.804 per million British thermal units.