Oil prices tread water with US inventories, CPI data in focus


Investing.com– Oil prices moved little in Asian trade on Wednesday, as signs of a potential build in U.S. inventories and anticipation of key inflation data kept traders from making any large bets. 

Markets were also watching for any progress in ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, although the latest round of negotiations appeared to be making little headway.

Chatter over a potential ceasefire in the Middle East had pulled oil prices off five-month highs earlier this week. But losses in crude were also limited by little progress in the ceasefire talks, while Iran threatened military action against Israel.

expiring in June steadied at $89.49 a barrel, while rose 0.1% to $84.54 a barrel by 20:24 ET (00:24 GMT). 

US inventories see bigger-than-expected build- API

Data from the showed late-Tuesday that inventories grew a bigger-than-expected 3 million barrels in the week to April 5. 

The reading suggested that supplies in the world’s largest fuel consumer were possibly not as tight as markets were hoping for, especially amid record-high production. 

But a sustained draw in gasoline inventories showed fuel demand remained robust.

The API data usually heralds a similar reading from , which is due later on Wednesday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration hiked its outlook for U.S. oil production this year- a trend that could potentially herald less tight supplies.

But the EIA also said it expects to average $88.55 a barrel in 2024, up from a prior forecast of $87 a barrel. 

CPI data looms, rate outlook uncertain

A key point of focus for crude markets was U.S. inflation data, due later in the day. The reading is widely expected to factor into the outlook for U.S. interest rates, and is also expected to offer markets with more cues for their next leg of movement.

Wednesday’s CPI report is expected to show inflation picked up slightly in March- a trend that bodes poorly for crude markets, given that it gives the Federal Reserve more impetus to keep rates higher for longer. 

The CPI report comes after a blowout print last week. Several Fed officials also warned in recent sessions that sticky inflation will deter the central bank from cutting interest rates early. 

High rates and inflation are expected to weigh on economic activity and also chip away at oil demand.