Crude inched higher Wednesday, with U.S. oil settling marginally higher, after the Energy Information Administration reported further draws in American crude stockpiles and larger-than-expected increases in gasoline inventories.
The EIA's weekly petroleum data showed a 6.9 million barrel drop in American crude stockpiles, extending declines over the last three weeks to more than 27 million barrels—the biggest three-week decline on record.
The drop came as imports of crude remained under pressure, sending oil prices up in the minutes after the report, even as the data put pressure on gasoline futures. Gasoline stockpiles declined after the EIA reported a large 3 million barrel build in U.S. inventories. Futures prices came off a four-month high hit on Tuesday.
Technicians have said that both WTI and RBOB looked poised for a correction, as both contracts have traded over 70 on the relative strength index in recent sessions, a level generally seen as a sign that a commodity has been overbought.
Analysts said that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's lukewarm comments on the central bank's plans to roll back its economic stimulus did not move the market.
"For now, the reaction in the oil market is pretty muted," said Oliver Jakob of Petromatrix in Zug. "There's no big change in Bernanke's prepared comments. It's still all about a potential reducing of bond buying by the end of the year.
Investors remain concerned about interruptions to supplies from major exporters such as Libya. Armed protesters stormed the eastern Libyan oil port of Zueitina demanding export operations be halted, a witness said