Crude oil prices edged up for a fourth consecutive session on Wednesday, close to their highest levels since mid-2015, ahead of U.S. oil inventory figures and as the market awaits evidence of OPEC supply reductions in the new year.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WIT) crude oil prices settled up 16 cents at $54.06 for the best close since July 2, 2015. The intraday peak fell just short of the year's high of $54.51 reached on Dec. 12.
Prices fell after the settle in light of data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute, which showed a surprise build of 4.2 million barrels in U.S. crude inventories.
Five analysts polled ahead of weekly inventory reports from API and the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated, on average, that crude stocks declined by 1.5 million barrels in the week to Dec. 23.
The EIA report has been rescheduled to Thursday at 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT), following the federal holiday on Monday because of the Christmas holiday.