Crude oil prices moved lower on Wednesday as traders await the release of the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report. The drop took prices to a two-week low.
Light sweet crude for May delivery dropped to $47.55, down $2.11 for the session. Prices hit as low as $47.35 earlier in the session.
Inventory data is expected at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. Economists are looking for a build of about 3 million barrels for the week ended March 27.
Last week's report showed crude oil inventories increased 3.3 million barrels in the week ended March 20. Analysts were expecting a rise of about 1.2 million barrels. The build is the 22nd in 26 weeks.
On the economic front, Automatic Data Processing's monthly report showed that non-farm private employment fell by 742,000 jobs in March following a revised decrease of 706,000 jobs in February. Economists had expected a decrease of 663,000 jobs compared to the decrease of 697,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, a Institute for Supply Management - Chicago report showed that the index of activity in the sector fell to 31.4 in March from 34.2 in February, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction in the sector. Economists had been expecting the index to edge up to a reading of 34.3.
Earlier, the Mortgage Bankers Association revealed that its market index of mortgage application volume rose 3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week of March 27th, following a 32.2 percent jump last week. The Market Composite Index was 1194.4 compared to 1159.4 in the previous week.
Oil closed Tuesday up $1.05 for the session. Crude had lost nearly $6 in the two previous sessions as investors bet a recent rally was overdone. Oil had challenged $55 late last week.
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