U.S. oil prices edged slightly lower in light pre-New Year holiday trade on Thursday, as market players awaited fresh weekly information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products.
Crude oil for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped 20 cents, or around 0.4%, to $53.84 a barrel by 4:30AM ET (09:30GMT), after climbing 16 cents, or 0.3%, a day earlier.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on oil supplies at 11:00AM ET (16:00GMT) Thursday, amid analyst expectations for a decline of 2.0 million barrels.
Gasoline inventories are expected to rise by 1.3 million barrels while stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are forecast to increase by 1.8 million barrels.
The report comes out one day later than usual due to the holidays.
After markets closed Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute said that U.S. oil inventories rose by 4.2 million barrels in the week ended December 23, surprising analysts who expected a 1.5-million-barrel decline.
The API report also showed a decline of 2.8 million barrels in gasoline stocks.
Elsewhere, Brent oil for March delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London inched up 2 cents, or 0.05%, to $56.99 a barrel, adding to the prior session’s gain of 13 cents, or 0.23%.
London-traded Brent futures touched a 17-month high of $57.89 earlier this month, amid optimism over planned output cuts by major global oil producers.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers led by Russia have announced cutbacks of almost 1.8 million barrels per day in oil output starting from January 1, 2017 in an effort to bolster prices and support the market.
In a sign that the world’s major oil producers may abide by their agreement, OPEC member Venezuela said it will cut 95,000 barrels per day of oil production in the new year.
Meanwhile, the members of an OPEC and non-OPEC committee formed to monitor the market may meet on January 21-22, according to Kuwaiti oil minister Essam Al-Marzouq, which may give an early indication of compliance with the deal.
Elsewhere on Nymex, gasoline futures for February added 0.5 cents, or 0.3% to $1.680 a gallon, while February heating oil tacked on 0.5 cents, or 0.3%, to $1.722 a gallon.
Natural gas futures for February delivery slumped 6.7 cents, or 1.7%, to $3.830 per million British thermal units.