- U.S. oil futures dropped from the previous session’s four-month high on Thursday, as investors booked profits amid speculation prices rose too far, too fast.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March traded in a range between USD99.54 a barrel and USD100.36 a barrel.

Nymex oil prices last traded at USD99.59 a barrel during European morning hours, down 0.8%.

The March contract rallied to USD101.38 a barrel on Wednesday, the most since October 18, before trimming gains to settle at USD100.37 a barrel, up 0.43%.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD99.11 a barrel, the low from February 10 and resistance at USD101.38 a barrel, the high from February 12.

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 produce data on retail sales for January, as well as the weekly report on initial jobless claims later in the session.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is to testify on the bank’s semiannual monetary policy report before the House Financial Services Committee, in Washington.

In her first congressional testimony on Tuesday, Fed Chair Yellen said that the central bank would taper the pace of its asset purchases at future meetings if the economy continued to improve as expected.

She added that the pace of the central bank’s bond purchases are not on a “preset course”, while reiterating that Fed plans to hold interest rates at zero “well past” the time the jobless rate falls below 6.5%.

The testimony is coming amid fresh concerns over the outlook for the recovery, following the weakest two-month stretch of U.S. job creation in three years in December and January.

The Fed tapered its monthly asset purchase program by another USD10 billion to USD65 billion a month at its last policy meeting.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government said Wednesday that crude oil inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels last week, above expectations for an increase of 2.7 million barrels.

The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.9 million barrels, compared to forecasts for a drop of 50,000 barrels, while distillate stockpiles declined by 731,000 barrels.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for April delivery shed 0.55% to trade at USD107.78 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at a four-month low of USD8.19 a barrel.

Stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point fell by 2.7 million barrels last week, easing concerns over a supply glut.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger