- U.S. oil futures inched higher on Wednesday, 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 traded in a range between $101.59 a barrel and $102.12 a barrel.

Nymex oil prices last traded at $102.09 a barrel during European morning hours, up 0.25%. The April contract lost 0.96% on Tuesday to settle at $101.83 a barrel.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $101.02 a barrel, the low from February 25 and resistance at $103.45 a barrel, the high from February 24.

Wednesday’s government report was expected to show that crude oil stockpiles rose by 1.2 million barrels last week. The data was also expected to show that distillate stockpiles, including heating oil and diesel, decreased by 1.3 million barrels.

After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. crude inventories rose by 822,000 barrels in the week ended February 21, compared to expectations for an increase of 1.5 million barrels.

The report also showed that distillate stocks fell by 693,000 barrels, while gasoline stockpiles decreased by 314,000 barrels.

Market players also awaited the release of key U.S. data later in the day to further gauge the strength of the economy. The U.S. was to release data on new home sales for January later in the session.

On Tuesday, the Conference Board said that its U.S. consumer confidence index declined to 78.1 in February, from a downwardly revised 79.4 last month, amid concerns over the short-term outlook for business conditions, jobs and earnings.

A recent series of disappointing U.S. economic indicators have sparked concerns that the recovery has lost momentum since the end of last year as inclement winter weather weighed on growth.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for April delivery was little changed to trade at $109.49 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $7.40 a barrel.

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