Oil hovered little changed near a six-month high above $62 a barrel on Wednesday, as a jump in U.S. consumer confidence and signs of modest recovery in Japanese exports buoyed hopes that oil demand would rebound as the global economy recovers.
Oil gained over 1 percent on Tuesday, bolstered by the U.S. data and comments from OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia that prices may continue to rise.
U.S. crude oil for July delivery edged down 6 cents to $62.39 a barrel by 0455 GMT (12:55 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday, after having hit a fresh six-month high of $62.95 in early trade. The contract settled at $62.45 a barrel on Tuesday -- its highest close since November 5.
London Brent crude fell 4 cents to $61.20.
Oil is being supported by the U.S. consumer confidence data, said David Moore, a commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
The U.S. and Japanese data boosted hopes the world is emerging from its worst financial crisis in decades, reigniting a rally in stocks and other riskier assets.
Even though a recovery appears fragile, Asian shares rose on Wednesday to their highest level in more than seven months amid improving investor confidence.
Expectations of a further drawdown in U.S. crude inventories also lent support to prices, analysts said.
A preliminary Reuters poll ahead of U.S. weekly inventory data showed forecasts for a 1.1 million drawdown in crude stocks and a 1.8 million decline in gasoline stocks last week.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute data will be delayed one day until Wednesday while U.S. Energy Information Administration oil inventory data will be released on Thursday due to the U.S. Memorial Day holiday on Monday.
Oil prices are now double the four-year low of around $33 struck in December, as rallying equity markets sparked hopes that recent government stimulus measures will hasten the speed of a global economic recovery.
Prices also shot above the key 200-day moving average on Wednesday for the first time in more than eight months, adding to some analysts' convictions that oil has found a new price floor at $60 and may rise toward $65.
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told journalists ahead of Thursday's OPEC meeting he hoped oil prices would hit $75 a barrel later this year.
OPEC, which have already cut production by 4.2 million barrels per day since September, is expected to leave output levels unchanged at its meeting in Vienna on expectations prices will continue to rise despite swollen stockpiles and slumping demand.
With a host of key economic data on tap later on Wednesday, analysts said any negative surprises would pose the largest downside risk for oil prices, which have jumped about 21 percent so far this month.
Economic data expected from the U.S. include weekly mortgage market index, weekly retail sales and home sales in April.
(Editing by Kim Coghill)