The price of oil rose slightly on Wednesday as investors expected new data to show that U.S. crude stockpiles fell late last month.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for July delivery was up 56 cents to $93.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price fell 14 cents to finish at $93.31 a barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
U.S. Energy Department data for the week ending May 31 is expected to show a decline of 1 million barrels in crude oil stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill.
Tighter supplies tend to push oil prices higher, as does the U.S. dollar when it softens against other major currencies. A fall in the dollar makes oil cheaper and more appealing for investors with other currencies because it is traded in dollars.
Overall, however, oil markets lacked momentum. The price of crude has moved sideways over the past year, trading within a range of $88 to $96 per barrel.
"There's been movement beyond that range, but the way big money makes money bigger is that they catch trends. With this limited range, there is no trend," said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions in a market commentary.
Economic data from the U.S., the world's largest energy consumer, failed to drive markets. Payroll processor ADP said that private employers added 135,000 jobs in May, up from 119,000 in April but below the average increase of 200,000 over the winter months. The government's more comprehensive monthly jobs report will be released Friday.
The Commerce Department's report on orders placed with U.S. factories in April is due later Wednesday.
In other markets, Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, was up 27 cents to $103.51 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Also on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
-- Wholesale gasoline added 1.08 cents to $2.829 a gallon.
-- Heating oil gained 1.3 cents to $2.8779 per gallon.
-- Natural gas rose 1.5 cents to $4.013 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Christopher S. Rugaber in Washington contributed to this report.
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