U.S. oil futures held steady near a nine-week high in holiday-thinned trade on Thursday, as market players looked ahead to U.S. weekly supply data 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 February traded at USD99.30 a barrel during European morning trade, up 0.1%. New York-traded oil futures held in a range between USD99.05 a barrel and USD99.65 a barrel.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD97.76 a barrel, the low from December 19 and resistance at USD100.29 a barrel, the high from October 22.
The February contract settled 0.31% higher on Tuesday to end at USD99.22 a barrel. There was no floor or electronic trading on Wednesday because of the Christmas holiday.
Volumes were expected to remain light on Thursday, with year-end positioning and profit-taking driving flows.
After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. crude inventories rose by 500,000 barrels in the week ended December 20. The data also showed that gasoline stockpiles fell by 2.5 million barrels.
The more closely-watched numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration have been delayed until Friday due to the Christmas holiday.
U.S. crude futures, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, have been well-supported in recent weeks amid indications the U.S. economy is gaining momentum.
The U.S. was to release weekly data on initial jobless claims later in the day.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for February delivery inched down 0.25% to trade at USD111.64 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD12.34 a barrel.
London-traded Brent prices rallied to a three-week high of USD112.05 a barrel on Tuesday, amid ongoing concerns over a disruption to supplies from Libya and South Sudan.
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