The price of oil edged up to near $100 a barrel Wednesday as energy investors waited for the latest figures on U.S. crude and fuel stockpiles.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 25 cents at $99.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract expires Thursday and the more heavily-traded May contract was down 11 cents at $98.77.
On Tuesday, the April Nymex contract gained $1.62 to $99.70 on Tuesday after strong U.S. factory data and an apparent easing in tensions over Ukraine.
Investors are awaiting fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products, which give a weekly indication about the strength of demand in the world's biggest economy.
Statistics for the week ended March 14 are expected to show a rise of 2.6 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a decline of 1.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute reported a rise in crude stocks of 5.9 million barrels. The report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.