U.S. oil futures were little changed near a one-week high on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve unveiled a cut in monetary stimulus amid indications the U.S. economic recovery is deepening.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in February traded at USD98.14 a barrel during European morning trade, up 0.08%. New York-traded oil futures held in a range between USD97.77 a barrel and USD98.14 a barrel.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD96.52 a barrel, the low from December 16 and resistance at USD98.74 a barrel, the high from December 11.
The February contract rallied to USD98.30 a barrel on Wednesday, the highest since December 11, before setting at USD98.06, up 0.61%.
The Fed announced Wednesday that it would reduce its USD85 billion-a-month bond buying program by USD10 billion in January. In his last press conference as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy was continuing to make progress.
The U.S. central bank reiterated that interest rates are likely to remain low even after the unemployment rate drops below 6.5%, the threshold at which the Fed has previously said it would start to consider rate increases.
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s bullish U.S. supply data also supported prices. The Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that crude oil inventories fell by 2.9 million barrels last week to 372.3 million barrels. That was above expectations for a decline of 2.3 million barrels.
The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels, compared to expectations for a gain of 1.9 million barrels.
The U.S. is the world’s largest oil consuming nation.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for February delivery inched up 0.02% to trade at USD109.65 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD11.51 a barrel.
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