The price of oil dropped below $102 a barrel on Tuesday as expectations of a buildup in U.S. crude inventories dampened sentiment.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down $1.18 to $101.64 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
On Monday, the contract gained 62 cents as another cold spell for the U.S. Midwest and Northeast was expected to boost demand for heating oil at a time when many refineries are undergoing seasonal maintenance.
Supplies, however, also appeared to be robust, with weekly crude stocks on a rising trend. Investors are waiting for a weekly U.S. stockpile report due later this week that is likely to show further gains.
Data for the week ending Feb. 21 are expected to show a build of 1.2 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a draw of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.