- U.S. oil futures edged higher on Thursday, as investors looked ahead to upcoming U.S. economic data to gauge the strength of the world’s largest oil consuming nation.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March traded in a range between USD97.35 a barrel and USD97.67 a barrel.

Nymex oil prices were last trading at USD97.59 a barrel during European morning hours, up 0.25%.

WTI oil prices settled 0.05% lower on Wednesday to end at USD97.36 a barrel. Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD95.63 a barrel, the low from January 28 and resistance at USD97.80 a barrel, the high from January 24.

The U.S. is to publish preliminary data on fourth quarter economic growth. The nation is also to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims and data on pending home sales.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said that it would reduce its monthly bond buying program by USD10 billion to a total of USD65 billion a month, in a widely anticipated decision.

The central bank added it will keep a close eye on economic indicators before deciding to wind down its stimulus program even further.

Oil traders shrugged off data confirming a contraction in China’s manufacturing sector. China’s final HSBC Purchasing Managers Index released earlier fell to a six-month low of 49.5 in January from a preliminary reading of 49.6 and down from 50.5 in December.

Meanwhile, market players continued to monitor liquidity conditions in emerging markets, such as Turkey and South Africa.

Emerging markets economies have been hard hit in recent sessions by worries over the impact of cuts in Fed stimulus and concerns over a possible slowdown in China.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for March delivery inched up 0.1% to trade at USD107.94 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD10.35 a barrel.

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