– Nymex crude prices fell slightly during Asian trading hours on Thursday after climbing to their 2014 high on Wednesday as the markets weighed weather concerns in the U.S. along with heating oil inventories.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April traded at $102.77 a barrel during Asian trading, down 0.07%.

On Wednesday, the New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $102.74 a barrel and a high of $103.00 a barrel. The April contract settled at $102.84 a barrel.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $99.41 a barrel, Thursday''s low, and resistance at $102.95 a barrel, the high from Oct. 16.

Strong winter storms that swept over the northeastern U.S. on Tuesday and brought strong winds and fresh snowfall likely hiked demand for heating oil, investors were betting.

Chilly forecasts sent oil prices climbing, as did unrest in crude-rich Venezuela and Libya.

The rally cooled somewhat as investors jumped to the sidelines to await the release of the Federal Reserve''s January policy meeting minutes later.

Insight on the U.S. central bank''s $65 billion bond-buying program could move prices by either strengthening or weakening the dollar.

Fed bond purchases suppress interest rates to spur recovery, which weakens the dollar as a side effect.

A weaker greenback makes oil an attractive commodity on dollar-denominated exchanges, which is bullish for the commodity.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. housing starts fell 16% in January to 880,000 units, outpacing expectations for a 5.7% drop, though a series of winter storms may have played a factor.

The number of building permits issued last month declined by 5.4% to a seasonally adjusted 937,000 units, outpacing expectations for a 1.8% decline.

A separate report revealed that the U.S. producer price index rose 0.2% last month, beating forecasts for a 0.1% gain, while core producer prices were also up 0.2%.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for April delivery were down 0.04% and trading at US$110.28 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$7.5 a barrel.

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