The price of oil was steady Wednesday after a big fall the day before as traders waited for a report on U.S. crude stockpiles.
Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was down 2 cents to $99.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slid $1.84 to $99.74 on Tuesday, dented by soft Chinese manufacturing figures and expectations of another increase in U.S. crude stockpiles.
Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil, was up 6 cents to $105.68 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.
Despite recent signs of weakening manufacturing in China, which could dent oil demand, there are new signs of life in the U.S. economy including a report from the U.S. Commerce Department earlier this week showing rising construction spending.
But U.S. crude oil inventories due later Wednesday are expected to show demand is still relatively muted.
Data for the week ended March 28 is forecast to show an increase of 1.8 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 2 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Crude stocks have risen 10 weeks in a row, adding over 32 million barrels between mid-January and March 21.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
- Wholesale gasoline was down 0.2 cent at $2.868 a gallon.
- Natural gas fell 2.2 cents to $4.254 per 1,000 cubic feet.
- Heating oil shed 0.3 cent to $2.891 a gallon.