Crude oil prices advanced slightly in Asian trading Wednesday after plunging in the previous session.
Light sweet crude for August delivery gained 0.82 percent or 69 cents to $84.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange during Asian trading hours. Brent crude oil futures for August delivery rose 0.53 percent or 52 cents to $98.49 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
“The market is neutral at the moment, stabilizing after a sharp decline in the second quarter. Brent had extended gains after touching a strong support level at $98. Brent is expected to trade in a range of $95 to $105 and U.S. crude will trade between $80 and $90 until end-August,” Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan, told Reuters.
Oil futures plunged Tuesday as the offshore oil and gas workers strike in Norway ended after the government's intervention and latest economic data from China provided fresh evidence of weakness in the world's second-largest economy. Light sweet crude for August delivery declined $2.08 and settled at $83.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude oil plunged 2.3 percent or $2.35 to settle at $97.97 a barrel.
The Norwegian oil industry warned Monday that it would begin the lockout of offshore oil workers at 12:01 a.m. (Norway time) Tuesday. But minutes before the start of the lockout, the government intervened to end a 16-day dispute between the offshore oil workers and their employers and averted a full output shutdown.
China’s imports rose 6.3 percent in June compared to 12.7 percent annual growth reported in May and also fell short of economists' estimation of 12.7 percent, raising concern that the world's second-largest crude consumer wasn't doing enough to stimulate domestic demand and avert a slowdown.
Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories fell by 695,000 barrels for the week ending July 6.
After the markets open Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due to report weekly inventory data that are expected to show that stockpiles fell by 1.156 million barrels last week.