Investing.com - U.S. oil futures fluctuated on Wednesday, as investors looked ahead to key U.S. weekly supply data due later in the day to gauge the strength of oil demand from the world’s largest consumer.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April held in a range between $103.20 a barrel and $103.53 a barrel.
WTI oil prices last traded at $103.30 a barrel during European morning hours, down 0.03%, or $0.04 cents. The April contract lost 1.52%, or $1.59 a barrel, on Tuesday to settle at $103.33.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $101.80 a barrel, the low from February 28 and resistance at $105.22 a barrel, the high from March 3.
Wednesday’s government report was expected to show that crude oil stockpiles rose by 1.3 million barrels last week. The data was also expected to show that distillate stockpiles, including heating oil and diesel, decreased by 1.2 million barrels.
After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels in the week ended February 28, compared to expectations for an increase of 1.5 million barrels.
The report also showed that distillate stocks fell by 270,000 barrels, while gasoline stockpiles decreased by 1.2 million barrels.
Meanwhile, investors looked ahead to key U.S. economic data later in the day for further indications on the strength of the economy and the future course of monetary policy.
The U.S. is to release the ADP report on private sector job creation, which leads the government’s nonfarm payrolls report by two days, while the ISM is to publish a report service sector activity.
Oil prices fell sharply on Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that there was "no need yet" for Russia to exercise its authority, adding that any force used would be a last resort.
The comments eased concerns over a military conflict in Ukraine, dampening demand for safe-haven assets.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for April delivery slumped 0.3%, or $0.31 cents, to trade at $108.99 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $5.69 a barrel.